The women’s soccer team dropped its fifth straight conference match-up after Redlands outlasted the Leopards, 1-0, on Saturday night at Ortmayer Stadium.
The lone goal came in the 30th minute, after the Bulldogs took possession from the Leopards in the Bulldogs’ own territory.
Graduate forward Eva Vlassopoulos found freshman defender Malia Kuhl unmarked in front of the box where she fired a strike into the left corner past the diving Evelyn Saldivar, La Verne’s sophomore goalkeeper, to break the scoreless tie.
The Leopards were outshot in the first half as the Bulldogs were able to put up six shot attempts compared to the Leopards’ three. Saldivar had five saves in the first half.
Saldivar also got some help from her defense in the 25th minute when she dove after a high ball in the box and fell to the ground. The ball rolled back out to a Redlands attacker who took her chance with Saldivar on the ground, but junior center back Danielle Bennett came in to save the keeper when she blocked the ball and cleared it away from the box.
“I dropped with Evelyn, and when she went for (the shot) I went back (into the box) and she shot it and I was in the right position to stop the ball and clear it,” Bennett said.
Redlands was close to doubling their lead at the end of the half shortly after their first goal.
In the 35th minute, senior midfielder Tristen Sherley broke away from the middle defenders and found herself with a shot opportunity 30 yards from the goal. Sherley ripped a high shot that bounced off the crossbar back into play where the Leopards would clear it.
The Leopards tried to answer at the end of the half with an amazing shot in the 44th minute.
Freshman defender Miranda McGarry cut back her dribble to get around a Bulldog defender and gave herself a clean look at the goal from 25 yards out. McGarry took a quick shot which beat the outstretched hand of the Bulldog goalkeeper, however the ball hit the crossbar, halting the scoring chance before the halftime whistle blew.
“I was pretty far out so I didn’t have high hopes for the shot, but when I hit the crossbar I was shocked and I was disappointed it didn’t go in,” McGarry said. “It would’ve been a good boost to our team with a tie game going into the half.”
The Leopards put pressure on the Bulldog defense, controlling the ball for much of the second half. However the Leopards were only able to put together two shots in the second half.
The Bulldogs had their chances in transition as they controlled the middle game during the second half when they were not on the defensive side of the field.
Redlands found their shot five times in the second half but Saldivar pitched a shutout giving her team a chance to stay in the game.
After the Bulldogs caught the Leopards on their heels in a transition opportunity, Redlands got another clean look at the Leopard goal but Saldivar dove backward to her right to snatch the ball out of the air and stop the attack.
Although the Leopards kept the pressure on the Bulldogs’ defense, scoring opportunities were few and far in between as the Leopards only shot twice in the second half.
“We are waiting for our breakthrough win and once we get another win I think our momentum will be high and our training will elevate because we still want it just as bad as when we started,” senior defender Kaylee DeMarchi said.
As the Leopards head down their final stretch of games hoping to start a run at the conference tournament which takes the top four teams in the conference, senior forward Becca Fischer said adjustments need to be made.
“We need to be able to finish the opportunities we get on offense,” Fischer said. “We also need to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes. We get caught on our mistakes and we need to make sure to exploit the other team when they make their mistakes.”
La Verne traveled to Caltech for another Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match up on Wednesday afternoon. The Leopards beat the Beavers, 2-0, behind goals by junior midfielder Chloe Robinson and freshman midfielder Alison Flores.
The Leopards will host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Jacob Barriga can be reached at email@example.com.