La Verne beat the No. 25 team in the nation, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 1-0, Saturday.
Junior midfielder Jack Kolodge’s header in the ninth minute, assisted by sophomore forward Johnny DeRueda, was all the scoring La Verne needed.
“I was in the right spot at the right time so I was able to head it in so it worked out well,” Kolodge said.
The game was aggressive throughout with the Leopards fighting a tough battle.
“We had a great week in terms of our patterns,” Kolodge said. “We were all playing well and it translated into the game. We were able to be in the right spot and make the right passes at the right time and that really helped us.”
The Leopards have a young team this season with only one senior. They are all trying to learn how to play within the system and find what fits them best.
“These games mean a lot to both [teams]. We don’t want to be in last,” head coach Trevor Persson said. “We have finished second in the last couple of seasons. This year we are kind of reloading with a lot of younger players. It’s kind of a rebuilding year.”
The Stags had many attempts on goal but Leopard sophomore goalie Tristan Polakowski was able to stop them throughout the game. He finished with 11 saves.
“We contained them pretty well,” Polakowski said. “I mean, we are going to have moments when you slip up but that is when everyone will be there for each other and recover.”
The Leopards had to rely on their defense form throughout the game to make sure the Stags did not get onto the scoreboard.
“Defensively we worked our tails off. We went to every 50/50. We worked hard and we earned it,” sophomore defender Tyler Avila said.
The Leopards look forward to building on this game for the last five Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games they have left, hoping to get a spot in the playoffs.
“This is a huge win for us, taking down the No. 25 team in the nation and the No.1 team in SCIAC. It’s going to give us some momentum moving forward,” Kolodge said. “Getting two wins on the road earlier last week and home today is huge for us, and we are going to keep moving forward,” Kolodge said.
The momentum was short-lived, as the Leopards lost at Pomona-Pitzer Wednesday, 3-2.
The Leopards hit the road again at 2:30 p.m. Saturday to take on Cal Lutheran.
Maydeen Merino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.