Beavers snag late win on Leopards’ senior night

Michael Hill
Staff Writer

The La Verne Leopards faced off against the Caltech Beavers for a men’s soccer Southern California Intercollegiate Conference matchup at Ortmayer Stadium on Saturday with Caltech upsetting the Leopards on senior night, 2-1, due to two late goals in the game. 

La Verne had the opening kickoff and started off looking like the better team. Twelve minutes in, the Leopards had some great links of play passing around defenders with ease. The cross eventually came from sophomore defender Angel Loza but the Beavers’ defense dealt with it easily. 

La Verne had its first good chance of the game just two minutes later. Senior midfielder Christian Ibarra played a ball over the top of Caltech’s midfield, finding junior midfielder Damian Lira-Martinez, who crossed the ball to senior forward Owen Osagiede, who headed it just left of the goal.

Two minutes later, La Verne kept up the attack with yet another chance. Osagiede crossed a ball from the right side that bounced off of freshman defender Anthony Bastidas and fell perfectly to senior forward Jacob Corona who hit the ball first time. But a Caltech defender moved to block what could have been the opening goal.

In the 23rd minute, Osagiede megged a defender but put his shot from outside the box through the goalposts. He was all over Caltech’s defense causing problems and worry for the Beavers throughout the first half.

Caltech finally got their first good chance in the 24th minute when the ball fell to junior defender Eli Seiner who hit it first time on the volley but it sailed just past the top left corner uprights.

In the 26th minute, Leopard sophomore keeper Hector Duenas-Pena made a goal denying save with his leg that started a counter attack but the Caltech keeper made the eventual save.

In the 37th minute, La Verne got what they deserved when junior midfielder Mario Urbina took it into the box and played it across goal for sophomore forward Matt Moreno to open the scoring.

“It’s ecstatic, I was trying to think of a quick celebration to do but I was really excited to get the first goal of the game,” Moreno said.

Each keeper made another save before halftime but with Moreno’s goal the Leopards were up at half, 1-0.

The Beavers kicked off the second half and started off hot, putting in a cross but no one was there to attack it.

After about 10 minutes of back and forth battling in midfield with no chances being created, both teams finally started to show life on the attacking side of the ball. In the 35th minute, Caltech put in a cross but it was cleared by the La Verne back line and taken down the other way by Ibarra who was questionably challenged in the Caltech box and it had the crowd going.

Two minutes later Ibarra had another chance, this time a shot from outside the box that was bound for the bottom left corner but the Caltech keeper made a great save to stop it from going in. 

After the corner, yet another questionable foul inside the Caltech box had the crowd upset again at the referee’s decisions. 

In the 75th and 79th minute, Pena made remarkable saves but at this point in the game you could tell that Caltech was pushing for an equalizer.

In the 83rd minute, the Leopards were attacking Caltech’s box until they were awarded a free kick just outside of it but eventually forced a save from the keeper. A minute later freshman forward Eduardo Reyes hit a volley that struck the right post on what could have been the dagger.

With two minutes to go, sophomore forward Andy Dimnaku scored an absolute screamer from the right side of the field 25 yards out, putting it in the top left corner which gave the keeper no chance to save it. The score stood 1-1 but it was not over just yet. 

A minute later, freshman midfielder Etienne Casanova received the ball at the top of the box and floated it over Duenas-Pena’s head. Caltech turned the game around and led, 2-1.

With 30 seconds left, the Leopards had one last free kick effort but it sailed out, sealing the defeat for La Verne and a last minute comeback for Caltech.

La Verne then honored their five seniors at the end of the night – Christian Rios, Jonathan Ortiz, Osagiede, Corona and Ibarra. 

“My whole soccer experience was good,” Corona said. “I really enjoy the intense and competitive environment that is expected day in and day out. Can’t wait to see how my teammates continue to grow.”

It was an emotional moment for all five players.

“From the beginning I’ve learned many new things and it’s something I will be extremely grateful to have experienced during my time at La Verne,” Rios said.

“It’s a great experience, lots of friendships made, a lot of bonds made, simple as that” Osagiede said.

The Leopards matched up against the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens in the first round of the SCIAC playoffs Tuesday resulting in a 1-1 tie. However, they took a season ending loss after a shootout. 

The Leopards ended their season 4-13-2 overall and 3-7-1 in conference play.

Michael Hill can be reached at michael.hill3@laverne.edu.

Michael Hill is a sophomore journalism major with a concentration in broadcast journalism. He loves to talk anything and everything sports.

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