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Leopards finish SCIAC play with losses to Redlands, Chapman

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Joey Matsuzawa
Staff Writer

Heading into this season the men’s soccer team looked to improve from their lackluster 2017 outing where they finished with an 8-8-2 overall record and a 5-7-2 conference record.

Unfortunately their efforts were not enough this year as the team finished 5-9 in conference after a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss to Redlands on Saturday in a must-win game.

This puts them in sixth place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and unable to make the postseason, as only the top four teams qualify for the SCIAC postseason tournament.

Even though the team was unable to reach their goal of making postseason, it is clear that the young team has the potential to compete in the coming years.

Coming into the season with a 28-man roster with 11 freshman, nine sophomores, five juniors and only three seniors, it was necessary for the team to take the time to help the new players develop their skills and adjust to the system. 

“They’re getting used to the speed of play. It’s a lot different than high school and club. They’re starting to take more accountability and really take on more of a role in this team,” senior midfielder Thomas McKenzie said.

However, this reflected poorly in their record.

As the team went 2-6 in September, but improved to 3-3 in October to close out the season with upset wins over Whittier and No. 25 ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, handing the Stags just their second loss of the season.

“Statistically we went 1-7 to start the year now ‘We’re what? 7-7?’ Definitely a slow start, lots of freshman, lots of young bodies, but they have a burning desire to win and they enjoy the feeling,” head coach Trevor Persson said. 

With a young but highly motivated roster, that has proved can compete with the best, the team is excited for what next season has in store.

In their final SCIAC game Wednesday, the Leopards were shutout by Chapman, 2-0, on the road. The Leopards will conclude their season against UC Santa Cruz at 3 p.m. on Saturday as they travel up north to take on the Banana Slugs.

Joey Matsuzawa can be reached at joe.matsuzawa@laverne.edu.

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