The men’s soccer team fought hard for the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship title against the Redlands Bulldogs but were unable to come out on top, as the Bulldogs took the match, 2-1, Saturday at Farquhar Field.
“We know we’re good, and we knew that we could compete,” head coach Trevor Persson said. “Even though we lost, it was an exciting run and a great year, we just came up 10 minutes short.”
Junior foward Nathan Gonzalez was able to take control of his own blocked shot, dribble past two Redlands defenders and score, equalizing the game in the 71st minute of the match.
“Once I finally got the goal I was really excited, I thought our team was gonna come back into the game,” Gonzalez said.
However, Redlands sophomore midfielder Sergio Valencia found a way to answer back eight minutes later with a half-volley into the bottom left corner of the goal off a cross from freshman midfielder Jesus Avalos.
The Leopards worked to score again, as junior forward Saul Uribe managed to get a dangerous shot across seconds later, but they were unable to end the game and bring home the title for the University of La Verne.
“I was just thinking, ‘Oh I have to tie the game, this is it right here,’ and I just swung at the ball and hit it and it got stopped,” Uribe said. “I felt like the goal was there for us but we just had to keep trying.”
Uribe finished the season with five goals and five assists.
The game was scoreless until the second half, when Bulldogs sophomore forward Chase Boone headed a lofted pass from freshman Kayvon Parsa into the goal past the reach of La Verne freshman goalkeeper Josh Ramirez in the 49th minute.
Ramirez finished the season with a total of 50 saves, coming in at fifth place, right behind Occidental senior goalkeeper Theo Atkinson in the SCIAC standings.
Gonzalez finished the season off leading the SCIAC in goals scored with a total of 14 goals and a shots-on-goal percentage of .508.
He is also tied for third in SCIAC with a total of six assists on the season.
The Leopards came into the season with a goal of making it to the SCIAC postseason tournament, and they were able to surpass that goal.
“I know this team is capable of doing some amazing things and finally showing that we’re able to compete with the best definitely speaks volumes to what were trying to prove as a soccer program,” junior defender Ferdinand Estrada said.
While the Leopards did surpass their goal of making it into the postseason tournament, they were still hungry for more.
They are looking forward to preparing for next season and have high hopes of taking home a championship title in the future.
“It felt good to get there ( the championship match) but we were still hungry,” Persson said. “I think the guys got a taste of success and they wanted it even more, so it’s gonna be an exciting off season as we prepare for 2016.”
Kat Simonelli can be reached at email@example.com.