The men’s soccer team played for a grueling two hours, took six shots on goal and amassed seven saves against the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags but was unable to notch a single goal in a scoreless tie Wednesday at Pritzlaff Field in Claremont.
“It was a good game, kind of nerve-wracking for a coach, but it was about as well balanced as a game could be,” head coach Trevor Persson said.
This was the team’s first overtime match this year and the first tie in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play in Persson’s two years at La Verne.
Freshman goalkeeper Josh Ramirez stepped up for the team by fending off the seven shots on goal taken by CMS players.
The Leopards competed shot for shot with the Stags, each team totaling 19 and 20 shots, respectively throughout the match.
La Verne freshman midfielder Briley Venti, junior forward Saul Uribe, junior midfielder Justin Almandinger and junior midfielder Justin Funes all led the team with three shots each.
“Every time I took a shot I just hoped to see the net move, hoped that it hit the back of the net to end the game already,” Uribe said.
The Leopards’ defense came up big, making several key plays near the end of the second half in overtime and keeping the game scoreless.
“When one of us steps up high, the others drop behind to cover them,” junior defender Ferdinand Estrada said. “We’re constantly moving for each other, we’re constantly covering for each other so we never leave any gaps and I think that frustrates other teams.”
The tie puts the Leopards at 6-4-1 in SCIAC play and 10-4-1 overall.
“If you can’t get up for those games and you can’t get excited and you’re not pumped up for overtime, then you’re in the wrong sport,” Persson said. “It was a good result, a 0-0 tie on the road against a very organized team.”
The Leopards also took on the Occidental Tigers Saturday in a game that resulted in a 2-0 shut out by the Tigers.
The first Occidental goal was a lucky shot that went in off of La Verne senior defender Anton Russell.
Occidental freshman midfielder Liam Walsh took a free kick, setting up a set play to junior forward Grayson Burdon, who passed the ball back to Walsh. He shot it toward the right post.
Russell tried to head it away from the goal but it came off his head wrong and went straight into the net.
The Leopards managed to hold the Tigers off for the remainder of the first half, but Occidental was able to get another goal 10 minutes into the second half.
Occidental senior forward Zack Conrad took a shot toward the bottom-left corner from about 18 yards out.
Ramirez dove but could not get a hand on it as it soared past him and into the back of the net.
There was a small scuffle on the field five minutes before the game was over, resulting in the assignment of yellow cards to Occidental sophomore midfielder Santiago Bedoya-Gallego and La Verne junior defender Martin Gonzalez.
“It was just an intense game and I think everyone’s aggression was building up to a point where it boiled over a little bit,” Persson said.
The Leopards will take on the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen at 5 p.m. Saturday at William Rolland Stadium in Thousand Oaks.
Kat Simonelli can be reached at email@example.com.