Emmanuel Garibaldi Stevenson
The La Verne men’s soccer team played UC Santa Cruz in a hard fought battle but the Banana Slugs prevailed, 1-0, Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium.
The Banana Slugs scored early in the game on a header from senior defender Ronaldo Nava in the 21st minute. After that, the game had a lot of back and forth play.
Even though the Leopards were down most of the game, they still played with energy and were more aggressive than the Banana Slugs. Santa Cruz still took chances but at the end they were just trying to keep the ball away from the Leopards.
The Leopards ran a 2-4-4 line up where they moved the ball well and pressured the Banana Slugs to pass it back or kick it out multiple times.
“It was an intense game. It kind of helped us out because everybody was connecting and just getting us ready for the end,” junior midfielder Mario Urbina said. “Everything was planned following the plan, everything was good. They just scored a good goal.”
The ball movement was excellent from the Leopards and they took advantage of opportunities to kick at the goal but were unsuccessful.
“We could have done better. We needed to attack more and not let too many splits go through,” sophomore defender Javier Arellano said. “I think we did better in the last games and it should have translated to the next.”
The loss came a day after the Leopards tied the Cal Lutheran Kingsman, 1-1.
Senior midfielder Owen Osagiede was the one who put the ball away for the Leopards. They were more active on the shooting side during the game against the Kingsman than they were against the Banana Slugs.
There were some effects from playing two games in a row such as the loss of some players due to injuries, however, this did give opportunities to others to rotate in and show what they can do.
“I think a lot of people were tired or had some sort of little minor injury or something, but can’t blame it on yesterday’s game,” junior forward Asher Smith said.
The season is almost over as the Leopards have five games left and the team is getting ready for those last few Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games.
The Leopards’ traveled to Caltech on Wednesday and lost, 2-1, to start a stretch of four straight road games.
Next up for the Leopards is a rematch against Cal Lutheran at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The team is 3-10-2 overall and 2-5-1 in SCIAC play.
Emmanuel Garibaldi Stevenson can be reached at email@example.com.