Leopards miss chance at playoff berth

Jose Brambila
Editorial Director

The women’s soccer team lost to the Redlands Bulldogs 1-0 Wednesday night at Ortmayer Stadium, missing an opportunity to clinch a conference postseason berth.

La Verne dictated play from the opening whistle with senior forward Lauran Redding serving a dangerous cross that just missed the darting run of senior forward Jessica Hernandez in only the third minute of play.

Hernandez, the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference leading goal scorer, was very active in the first half, constantly laying off passes to her teammates and trying to create opportunities for the Leopards.

The half ended with the seventh place Bulldogs keeping La Verne off the scoresheet.

In the second half, Redlands would stun the Leopards and everyone in attendance when junior midfielder Hayley Romo scored off a cross to put the Bulldogs up 1-0.

Junior goalkeeper Jasmine Valadez said that her defense in the last few games has been losing their marks and not shifting quick enough on crosses — which is what happened in the Bulldog’s goal, when senior forward Mollie Craighead crossed the ball for Romo’s goal.

“We have to work on shifting when they are crossing the ball, we have to work on getting back,” Valadez said.

“The last couple of games that is the way they have been finishing their opportunities, by us not getting back and staying on our marks. I think that we have to follow up on our players and make sure that we clear everything out.”

The closest La Verne came to tying the game was in the 21st minute of the second half, when Redding managed to slip past the defensive line and was given the perfect pass only to take her shot right into the goalkeeper’s hands.

The Leopards were missing a few of their regular starters due to injury, like two-time SCIAC Player of the Week, sophomore defender Alina Cobian.

Cobian said that despite missing key players, there is no excuse for the loss and the ones that played needed to step up.

“I think that the people that were on the field could definitely take care of the game,” Cobian said. “We just needed to finish the opportunities that we had.”

Third place Pomona-Pitzer and fourth placed Whittier also lost their games, 2-1 and 1-0, respectively.

As a result, the standings stayed the same and the Leopards will have one more opportunity to clinch a postseason berth.

“Tonight we attacked most of the first half and had great opportunities to score and put them away and the fact that both Pomona and Whittier lost today is a blessing and a second opportunity,” junior midfielder Ari Dowell said. “It shows us that in our next game against Chapman we have to put away our chances.”

The Leopards, who are in second place, need a win against Chapman to clinch the second seed in the postseason tournament. A tie, depending on other results, would mostly likely see them clinch a berth.

A loss, however, could see them fall out of the top four and eliminated from playoff contention.

Hernandez said that she knew it would come down to the wire, with six teams still fighting for three playoff berths.

“We knew that out of the two games, we had to win one to clinch the top four. We went into this game hoping that with home field advantage and with our fans pumping us up, we could come out with a win but unfortunately we didn’t,” Hernandez said. “We are still confident that we will come out with a win against Chapman on Saturday.”

La Verne will travel to Orange to face Chapman at 11 a.m. Saturday at Wilson Field.

Jose Brambila can be reached at jose.brambila@laverne.edu.

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