The men’s soccer team was defeated, 2-0, by the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens in their last game of the season Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium. It was their third straight loss.
Freshman goalkeeper Logan Reese said he was sad for the season to come to a close on a losing streak.
“My heart goes out to the seniors because they helped me through my freshman year and taught me the leadership skills I use today,” Reese said.
The Leopards also paid tribute to the seniors on the team – goalkeeper Kevan Rehmani, forward James Coe, midfielder/defender Sean Costello and defender Brian Martinez – before the game. They were recognized for their commitment to the team and were in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game.
“It was a great experience playing for this team,” Martinez said. “I wish I could play another year, but unfortunately my time has come to an end.”
The first half started with the Leopards’ offense moving the ball down the field, but the Sagehens’ defense gained possession of the ball. Within the first few minutes of the game, the Sagehens forced a corner kick and the Leopards’ head butted the ball forward into the Sagehens’ goal.
Junior forward and midfielder Owen Osagiede said when he tried to kick the ball out of the goal the referees said the ball crossed the goal line.
“I felt very unlucky and very cheap,” Osagiede said. “The way our season has been going with early unlucky goals, it has been shooting ourselves in the foot.”
The Sagehens maintained control of the ball for about five minutes until Martinez committed a foul, tripping a Sagehens’ offensive players’ leg.
“Once the player cut into my left, I stuck my right foot out,” Martinez said. “Then, he just tripped over my leg and that’s how the penalty occurred. It was my fault, I take full responsibility for it.”
Pomona-Pitzer junior defender Jared Mejia sneaked a penalty kick into the left-side of the goal post before La Verne goalie Luis Delgado could save it, making the score 2-0.
La Verne committed six of their 10 fouls during the first half.
“Fouls that lead to clear goal scoring opportunities for the other team definitely brings our momentum down,” Osagiede said. “We can’t give momentum to the other team and keep giving them free penalty kicks or free goal scoring opportunities to get ahead of us.”
In the second half, the Leopards switched Delgado with freshman Logan Resse. Although the Sagehens’ offense dominated against the Leopards’ defense by stealing the ball several times, Resse prevented eight potential goals by the Sagehens’ offense.
“It feels good,” Resse said. “That’s what a keeper is supposed to do, save goals. I really put trust in my team and my defense to try and give us the chance to win the game.”
Near the end of the second half, an offside call on the Pomona-Pitzer handed Osagiede the opportunity to shoot a penalty kick.
Osagiede had the last goal opportunity on La Verne’s offense, but his fast shot was caught by Pomona-Pitzer senior goalie Jonathan Rushton.
The Leopards had a difficult time maintaining control of the ball throughout the game.
“I think there is a lack of chemistry between the team that could have contributed to our overall performance,” Martinez said.
The Leopards finished the season 3-13-1 overall and 1-11 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. But for the seniors the final record is not what resonates with them.
Costello said it’s about the experiences he made with teammates and coaches that will last for years to come.
“My teammates and the relationships I have built with each teammate over the years is something I will take with me well after graduation,” he said.
Martinez said although this season was not the outcome he wanted, he gained more from playing one season at the University of La Verne.
“I feel happy that we created a great brotherhood within the soccer team playing under coach Trevor (Persson) and the other coaches,” Martinez said. “Also, I was super happy to play this season with Kevan since we came from the same junior college, one last time.”
Resse said he is sad watching the seniors finish their last game of the season.
“I really believe that the seniors leaving will have a major impact on our season next year because they really taught us how to keep our heads up,” Resse said. “They never let the team give up, we always felt like we had a chance to win every game.”
Jaydelle Herbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.