THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Cal Lutheran Kingsmen struggled to capitalize on late opportunities as they were edged out 1-0 by the La Verne Leopards in Saturday's matinee inside William Rolland Stadium. Even with a late penalty kick awarded to the Kingsmen with just 34 seconds left, the team could not dent the back of the net.
La Verne opened the game with an early score, taking the 1-0 lead in just the eighth minute of play. A long throw by Salvador Ortega from the left line found the head of James Metoyer who directed the ball to the feet of Cesar Rodriguez. The midfielder then poked the ball diagonally past the defense into the back right of the net.
With plenty of time left on the clock, the Kingsmen responded with six shots in the first half. Senior Jared Pischke saw back-to-back chances in the introductory third of the match. In the 17th minute, the forward got behind the defense and broke through four defenders, but sailed a shot high of the bar. Less than two minutes later, quick passes from juniors Lucca Rodrigues to Aaron Winsick and back to Pischke opened the space for the him to take another shot at goal, but this time the attempt was thwarted by Leopard keeper Rene Gonzales.
The Kingsmen saw two more late looks in the first half, the first coming from freshman Adrian Graciano with just eight minutes remaining. A cross from Winsick into the box found the forward's feet just in time for one touch before nailing a shot dead center, but was defensively saved by La Verne's Perez. Though the ball remained loose in the box, three Leopard defenders managed to smother the ball before Graciano could get another clean shot off.
Two minutes later, a foul on La Verne set up a free kick for Cal Lutheran 15 yards outside of the box. Junior Joey Arnold stepped in to take the kick, but rolled the ball softly into the flurry. The ball, though, found the feet of senior Alex Cortez who went one-on-one with the keeper and curled one towards the left post, but Gonzales dove just in time to stop the goal.
Still looking for the equalizer, Cal Lutheran took six more shots in the back half of the contest. Though La Verne took the first attempt of the half, Perez's header on another long throw from Ortega fell right into the hands of Kingsmen keeper Antonio Welch. The sophomore finished the contest with four saves, bringing his season total to 76, the second highest total in the conference and the third highest in save percentage at .809.
The Kingsmen offense only continued to increase their pressure as the clock continued to wind down, countering long-ball set pieces from La Verne with intercepted passes and headers won in the midfield.
However, it all came down to the final minute of the match when two Leopard defenders collided with sophomore Gabe Elizondo while attempting to receive the ball in the box with just 34 seconds remaining.
After making his last two consecutive penalty kicks, freshman Igor Lumbrano stepped up to take the attempt for the Kingsmen. Unfortunately for Cal Lutheran, Gonzales guessed correctly on Lumbrano's spot and blocked the shot over the crossbar. Though Cal Lutheran sought after last second attempts with two more corners in remaining 20 seconds of the contest, nothing found the back of the net.
The Kingsmen seek to win their remaining Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchups to remain in playoff contention. The face off against the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags Wednesday night, October 17, in the final home game of the season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PST with recognition for seniors Jared Pischke and Alex Cortez preceding.
Box Score: LV 1, CLU 0
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director