Giovanna Z. Rinaldo
In an energetic game against Cal Lutheran, the women’s soccer team showed fighting spirit but was unable to score, losing 2-0 Wednesday at Ortmayer Stadium.
Despite conceding two goals in the match – the first being an own goal – the Leopards refused to lower their intensity level and kept trying to come back until the final minutes.
However, they were held scoreless for the third time in five games in the season.
“Honestly I just think it’s something that this season we’re struggling with,” head coach Lauryn Pehanich said. “I think we’re getting opportunities, and it’s that final thing.”
“It may just be a little bit of a lack of concentration, or lack of confidence, but that’s typically how scoring happens in soccer. Once you get one everything opens up and it really starts going, so we just need to get that one break now,” Pehanich said.
La Verne started the match crowding Regals’ defensive half and not giving them much space.
The away team then started to slowly adapt, press higher, create chances and settle in the game.
The Leopards were strong in the defense, and quick in recovering the ball after losing it.
In the 24th minute, senior goalkeeper Heather Seman could not do anything when a dangerous cross from the Regals’ left-hand side was not stopped, and the Leopards’ defense accidentally sent it in to put the visitors ahead, 1-0.
With several substitutions before the half time whistle, La Verne picked up its game and ended the first 45 minutes on a good note, despite the scoreboard disadvantage.
“We came out with a lot of energy and played really well, and we kept it going throughout the whole game,” sophomore midfielder Juna Bouchekara said. “We need to bring that into upcoming games.”
Cal Lutheran started the second half creating danger while La Verne put up a fight.
When the home team was slowly settling in and creating more chances, the Regals found another goal through aerial play.
After a cross from junior defender Olivia Leyva, junior forward Kali Youngdahl scored from a header to increase Cal Lutheran’s advantage, 2-0.
The Leopards stuck to their game plan and went after a positive result.
“We kept the energy up the whole time, we didn’t let the two goals get us down, and just kept pushing to score,” said freshman midfielder and defender Alina Cobian. “I think we played really well, it’s just difficult with the two goals on us, but I think we kept it together and played until the end. A good performance out of the team.”
Trusting their good defensive work, the Leopards started taking more risks toward the end of the game.
That allowed Cal Lutheran to exploit counter-attacks and try to expand the score, but Seman was key in keeping the Regals away with seven saves.
“Our defense did a really solid effort and I think the energy overall was really high, we just fed off of each other,” Bouchekara said.
The Leopards’ final minutes had intense pressure and good playmaking, but they were held scoreless at the end of 90 minutes.
“I think we kept possession of the ball really well, and I think in keeping possession of the ball it gave us more opportunities to be able to go forward,” Pehanich said.
Despite the result, the team had a positive showing and hopes to capitalize on their strengths.
“I thought it was a great team effort, we played the way we’ve been practicing for the past month and a half,” Bouchekara said. “We played really well in our new formation, and really connected well.”
As for improvements, Pehanich said they are needed especially in the attack.
“We’re looking to improve everywhere. I think right now our defense is holding really really strong, I think our defenders are doing a really good job,” Pehanich said. “I think where we are looking to improve is in the final third, which is finishing our chances and opportunities, cause it’s not like we’re not getting there.”
La Verne is now 2-7-0 overall and 1-4-0 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Leopards will face the Chapman Panthers at 7 p.m. Saturday at Ortmayer stadium.