ORANGE, Calif. — La Verne winger Justin Funes had himself a 22nd birthday and scored the game winner in the 86th minute to carry the Leopards past Chapman, 1-0, on Saturday night at Chapman Stadium.
It was a perfectly orchestrated play. Nathan Gonzalez received a throw-in down the left sideline and beat two defenders to get inside the 18-yard box. He then dropped it off to Briley Venti, who played a nice square ball to Funes for the tap-in.
La Verne improves 10-3-1 overall and 8-3-1 in SCIAC play. Chapman falls to 9-4-2 and 6-4-2. With four games left in the regular season, the Leopards sit in second place in the SCIAC standings with 25 points, five points clear of four-place Chapman and Pomona-Pitzer.
The Panthers had a big edge in shot attempts, outshooting the Leopards, 17-6, on the game. Funes goal was one of only two shots La Verne got off in the second half.
Chapman also earned eight corner kicks while La Verne managed just one.
Chapman got off to a fast start and the Leopards faced a barrage of shots in the opening 20 minutes. But the Leopards, as they do so well, got in the way of a lot of the dangerous shots and Josh Ramirez came up with two saves to keep the game scoreless going into the halftime break.
The second half was more of the same until Funes broke through with just under five minutes left in the game.
Chapman did not let up as it immediately forced Ramirez to make a save off the kickoff and got one final chance to send it to overtime when it earned a corner kick with 90 seconds left. Cole Peters got his head on it but missed just right and La Verne held on for the win.
The Leopards are back in action on Monday against Cal Lutheran.