Leopards pounce on Poets, end winless streak

Jose Brambila
Assistant Sports Editor

The goal drought and winless streak is finally over for the women’s soccer team as it defeated the Whittier Poets, 2-0, Wednesday night at Ortmayer Stadium.

After six consecutive losses, the nightmare run ended in the third minute of play. Junior forward Jessica Hernandez put the ball in the back of the net, ending 453 straight scoreless minutes for the team.

“There’s no words really, Hernandez said. “It felt amazing to come out and be a strong team and set the tempo, it’s just a really great feeling.”

Hernandez’s goal lifted an immense amount of pressure and frustration after going scoreless for five games.

The Leopards have had quality possession and chances during the goal drought, but with unlucky bounces and saves, the ball refused to go into the net.

Despite that, the team stood strong and never gave up, sticking to their collective character and culture.

“I’m so proud of their character this season, at any point. With the first loss, the second loss, the third loss, continuing with the losses,” head coach Lauryn Pehanich said. “They could’ve at any point given up, but they haven’t and they continued on and at the end of it we got this good result.”

With La Verne struggling to find goals, it was up to senior goalkeeper Heather Seman and her defense to come up with key saves and stops to ensure Whitter remained off the scoreboard.

“Obviously we got a goal in the first half early on, so keeping us at a lead instead of going into a draw was extremely important,” Seman said.

Senior forward Alexa Smith sealed the win for the Leopards in the 62nd minute with her first goal of the year, putting La Verne up, 2-0.

“The second goal sealed the deal. We hadn’t gotten a shutout all year so that was pretty exciting,” Seman said.

The Leopards dominated with a high press, causing Poet turnovers in their own half of the field.

After 30 minutes of La Verne domination, Whitter settled into the game by passing the ball out the back and building plays through possession.

The Poets had their most dangerous opportunity in the first half around the half hour mark, with a scramble in the box that no player was able to push to the back of the net.

Freshman defender Alina Cobian eventually cleared the ball to keep the score 1-0 for the Leopards entering halftime.

“I knew we were up, but we didn’t want to give them any chance or hope,” Cobian said. “We wanted to keep strong and make sure we got this win.”

Pehanich has had the team working all week on the forwards, making aggressive runs towards goal and on Wednesday night they all did just that.

Hernandez in particular was aggressive all night, finishing with three total shots on goal.

Cobian summarized what probably everyone on the team felt when the ball finally ended up in the back of the net.

“I was so excited. I was screaming on the top of my lungs, I knew we could do it,” Cobian said. “It was just a matter of time.”

The Leopards saw the game out to break a six-game losing streak, and are now 3-10-0 overall and 2-7-0 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

Hernandez said she has a message for any teams in SCIAC counting La Verne out or expecting an easy win against the Leopards.

“We’re not out. Every team might think were out, but we’re not. We got five games left, might as well win them all,” Hernandez said.

The Leopards play next against the Redlands Bulldogs 11 a.m. Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium. The game is part of the Homecoming celebrations.

Jose Brambila can be reached at jose.brambila@laverne.edu or on Twitter @Jozy_Brambila7.

Latest Stories

Related articles

Leopards lose nail-biter on senior night

Women’s soccer bid farewell to their seniors in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at the hands of Whittier on Wednesday at Ortmayer Stadium for senior night.

Leopards tie Occidental with Handel’s first collegiate goal

The Leopards women’s soccer team faced the Occidental Tigers on Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium and came away with a 1-1 tie.

Women make their mark at La Verne

The month of March is devoted to celebrating women and all their contributions throughout societies across the world. Here at the University of La Verne, from housing and residential life to the Center for Neurodiversity, Learning and Wellness, it is without question that the University is jam-packed with women hard at work adding to those contributions.

Leopards get slugged by UC Santa Cruz

The women’s soccer team suffered another 1-0 loss against the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs in a non-conference game Monday at Ortmayer Stadium.