CLAREMONT, Calif. — Saul Uribe's golden goal in the 105th minute powered the University of La Verne men's soccer team to a stunning 3-2 double overtime win over Pomona-Pitzer on Monday evening at Pomona-Pitzer Soccer Field.
The winning play developed as Uribe's attempted headed pass from the left post glanced off a Pomona-Pitzer defender and landed right at Uribe's feet. The Bell Gardens native promptly rocketed it towards the bottom of the crossbar and the ball landed just inside the goal, sealing a crucial victory for La Verne.
La Verne head coach Trevor Persson said the plan was to put in Jamie Moreno in place of Uribe in the second overtime. "But Saul told me at the intermission that he needs another five [minutes]," Persson said. "I gave him five more and thank goodness he felt it."
The Leopards improve to 12-4-1 overall and 8-4-1 in SCIAC play. The Sagehens slip to 6-8-2 and 6-6-1.
It wasn't the cleanest game for the Leopards early as they struggled to keep the ball and the midfielders weren't able to link up with the forwards, giving up 11 shots to Pomona-Pitzer while not generating a single shot in the first half. The Sagehens broke through with just 27 seconds remaining in the half as Jakob Merkle put away a cross from Aidan Ferrer from the right wing.
But the backline stayed disciplined and goalkeeper Josh Ramirez turned away at least three clear chances to keep the deficit to one goal heading into the break.
La Verne's inspiration came from Justin Funes in the 51st minute. Funes intercepted a pass to the Pomona-Pitzer left center back, manhandled the defender in the penalty box and blasted a shot towards the bottom left corner to tie the game at 1-1.
The play opened up for the Leopards after Funes' goal as both teams traded chances but the Sagehens looked to have stolen the game when it earned a penalty kick in the 88th minute and Jk Gopakumar slotted the kick into the lower right corner.
But the Leopards immediately put numbers forward and found the equalizer just a minute later. Anton Russell put in a long free kick into the box, Jaime Moreno controlled it and lobbed to Nathan Gonzalez, who got off a shot but was blocked. Fortunately for La Verne, Briley Venti collected the rebound and launched it into the back of the net to force the overtime.
"We talked about how we couldn't play any worse than we did in the first half and the only way we could go was up," Persson said. "We responded by getting an early goal in the second half. We got lazy with out feet and gave up a penalty kick late but we scored in within a minute so our resiliency was huge.
"Our guys understand what's on the line and how important that victory was."
La Verne sits in third place in the SCIAC standings and firmly in contention for a spot in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. The Leopards are three points behind the leader Redlands.
The Leopards return to action at home against Caltech on Saturday.