Kingsmen Triumph Over Poets

The men’s soccer teams from California Lutheran University and Whittier College squared off Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. inside William Rolland Stadium. On a cold and windy night, the Kingsmen claimed a 3-2 victory over the Poets in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match-up.

In a game filled with many shots on goal, the Cal Lutheran attack created an opportunity in the 9th minute. Junior midfielder Diego Ortega had a point-blank shot on goal but was denied by Whittier goalkeeper Jorge Rivas who made a last minute save.

Whittier was the first team to get on the scoreboard when sophomore forward Jacob Conlon fired a shot into the right corner of the net. The Kingsmen defense was caught out of position and they were unable to defend the shot. This goal gave the Poets a short-lived 1-0 lead.

Cal Lutheran quickly responded in the 37th minute when senior defender Henry Breheny delivered a cross that was headed into the goal by sophomore midfielder Max Sharpe for his first goal of the season. The Kingsmen attack continued to gain momentum when they scored again in the 43rd minute. Junior defender Jesse Gallardo also scored his first goal of the season on a powerful shot that ricocheted off the left post and into the back of the net. This gave the Kingsmen a 2-1 advantage going into halftime after providing 19 shots on goal in the first half.

“Somehow the ball managed to find me,” Gallardo said. “I brought the ball down and crossed it to the keeper’s left side. It felt good to get my first goal of the season and help my team get a win.”

Maintaining control: Jaime Alvarado defends the ball against two Whittier players at Saturday night’s game.  Photo Credit--Ashleigh Coulter Staff Photographer
Maintaining control: Jaime Alvarado defends the ball against two Whittier players at Saturday night’s game.
Photo Credit–Ashleigh Coulter Staff Photographer

The beginning of the second half featured many shots from both teams. Whittier eventually provided a breakthrough. The Poets scored an equalizing goal in the 58th minute when senior forward James Suri finished a breakaway into the left side of the net. This made the score 2-2.

In the 66th minute, the deciding goal came off the left foot of Ortega who executed a first-time shot into the right corner of the net after a pass by junior forward Brandon Kearney. This was Ortega’s third goal of the season. This goal solidified the 3-2 result for the Kingsmen as they picked up the SCIAC win.

“It was all teamwork,” Ortega said. “In the first half we had a lot of chances, I had one right in front of the net. All I knew is that I had to keep going. Thanks to my team I got a nice open shot on my left foot and I put it in.”

Cal Lutheran tallied 28 shots while Whittier managed 11 shots. Head Coach Dan Kuntz said that shooting the ball has recently become a priority for the team.

“This week we really pounded the shooting aspect,” Kuntz said. “We kept telling them [players] to shoot from the outside, we always need to keep getting shots. Tonight we took the shots and that’s what we needed to do.”

The Kingsmen improved to 5-6-1 in SCIAC play as they make their attempt to earn a spot in the SCIAC post-season tournament. With only four conference matches remaining, Cal Lutheran knows what it needs to do to accomplish its goal.

“We have to keep winning. We know we have to win these last few games in order to get a chance in the tournament. We have to keep fighting,” Ortega said.

Next up, the Kingsmen will face off against Pomona-Pitzer Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in William Rolland Stadium.

Jeff Rebello
Staff Writer