Sarah Van Buskirk
Assistant Sports Editor
The men’s soccer team’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference skid continued against the Occidental Tigers after their 2-1 loss Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium.
Things started out promising for the Leopards. In the second minute of the game, they struck first when junior midfielder Owen Osagiede received a pass from senior forward James Coe and beat the Tiger goalie, senior Scott Drazan, to finish the ball in the back of the net. The Leopards were up first, 1-0.
“That was our game plan to get a goal first,” Coe said. “Usually we get scored on first then we have to come back.”
Early in the first half, the Tigers drew many scoring opportunities against the Leopards but the defense was quick to clear any ball in the penalty box.
In the ninth minute, Tiger sophomore forward Marcus Chmielewski fired in a shot, yet a diving save by Leopard sophomore goalie Kevan Rehmani kept the score 1-0 and revved up the momentum for La Verne. Rehmani executed many crucial saves early in the first half.
Throughout the half, the Tigers found many corner kick opportunities, however they were unsuccessful until the 18th minute. That’s when another Occidental corner kick landed on the far side of the field, connecting with Tiger sophomore defender Evan Karp, who then passed the ball to junior midfielder Joey Schwartz at the top of the penalty box. Schwartz drilled the ball past the Leopards’ defense and Rehmani, putting the Tigers on the board, 1-1.
“We applied everything we have been working on for the past couple of weeks and then we took our foot off the gas and made a few defensive mistakes,” head coach Trevor Persson said.
The Leopards quickly retaliated and advanced to the goal but were called offsides and turned it back over to the Tigers.
In the 19th minute, Leopard junior defender Brian Martinez received a yellow card and the Tigers were awarded a free kick at the top of the penalty box that was stopped by Rehmani.
After many unsuccessful drives up and down the pitch by both teams, the Tigers gained a scoring opportunity in the 43rd minute. The Leopards gave up another foul on the top of the penalty box which allowed Tiger junior midfielder Adrian Paredes a free kick. Paredes split the Leopards’ defense and found the back of the net, putting the Tigers up 2-1 going into halftime.
Early in the second half, the Tigers finished a ball in the net but was called offsides, making the goal no good.
The Leopards were unable to put up another shot following Occidental’s second goal until the 80th minute when Osagiede and Coe fired back-to-back shots, but both attempts were saved by Drazan.
“A loss is always more of a learning experience than a win,” Osagiede said. “We need to build upon what we need to improve and take that with us for the rest of the season.”
The Leopards began to lose intensity after that and the Tigers held the majority of ball possession, leaving the final score 2-1.
“We have been looking at our film to see what worked and didn’t work,” junior forward Jacob Corona said. “The first goal we scored was a good showing of what we can do and hopefully we can try to emulate that for more than just the first half and carry that on for the full 90 minutes.”
The Leopards traveled to Cal Lutheran to take on the Kingsmen Wednesday and suffered another 2-1, this one in double overtime.
La Verne is currently 2-7-1 overall and 1-5 in the conference. They sit in eighth place in SCIAC, one game ahead of winless Caltech.
The team’s next match will be on the road against the second place SCIAC team, Redlands at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Sarah Van Buskirk can be reached at email@example.com.