Ortega scores game winner in 2OT

Ortega scores game winner in 2OT

Photo by Rachael Dela Cruz

LA VERNE, CA — The University of La Verne men's soccer team would not stop fighting. With 23 seconds left in double overtime, Daniel Ortega sent a hard shot to the back of the net to give the Leopards a huge 2-1 over the visiting Whittier College Poets to keep La Verne in the SCIAC Postseason race.

Play of the Game

The clock was winding down in the second overtime period as the Leopards set up for a free kick at midfield. The ball was lofted into the box and bounced out to Ryan Sanfilippo who got off a hard shot that was blocked off the back of a Poet defender.

Ortega was ready. The sophomore charged at the ball and connected from 15 yards out, sending a hard shot to the left side of the goal that bounced in front of the keeper and in for the win, sending the Leopards' bench charging onto the field.

Conference Outlook

La Verne's win was huge to save its postseason aspirations. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Redlands, and Occidental have all clinched a spot in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament with 27 points apiece. Chapman, Pomona-Pitzer, Cal Lutheran, and the Leopards all have 15 points and will battle it out for the fourth and final spot.

How it Happened

After the Leopards showed a strong performance for most of the first half, a lapse in La Verne's defense with less than two minutes left led to a 1-0 advantage for Whittier after RayRay Roberson scored an unassisted goal.

The Leopards kept on the attack in the second half, letting off 10 shots in the period with several just missing. La Verne finally evened the scored just over 80 minutes into the game off a free kick. Set up at the top of the box, Cesar Rodriguez ran towards the ball and took a dummy swing, setting up a charging Alan Medina who executed a perfect strike to the top right corner of the box.

The Leopards had three chances in a row with just over six minutes remaining, the first off a header by Johnny DeRueda that went off the top of the crossbar. Next, James Metoyer let off a hard shot that was blocked and then Adrian Perez took a shot that went just off the fingertips of Whittier's keeper.

In the first overtime, Thomas McKenzie crossed a ball into DeRueda who headed the ball towards the goal that sailed just high. With under 30 seconds left in the second overtime period, it looked like the Leopards would record their first tie of the season until Ortega's heroics gave La Verne their second overtime win of the year.

Great Defense

Rene Gonzalez had a great game in front of the net for the Leopards. In the 58th minute, Roberson sent a hard shot from inside the box but Gonzalez was there with a diving save on the ground to keep the ball out. A minute later, Matteo Loi let off a hard shot that forced Gonzalez to make another diving save, this time airborne, to again keep the Poets from extending their lead.

Season Impact

With the win, La Verne improves to 7-7 overall and 5-7 in the SCIAC. Whittier falls to 5-8 overall and 4-8 in conference play.

Next Game

The Leopards have a huge match-up this Saturday in their final regular season home game of the season against first place Redlands at 7 p.m. La Verne will celebrate seniors Gerardo Vazquez and Christopher Cervantes in a brief pregame ceremony.

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