WHITTIER, Calif. — Saul Uribe scored with 54 seconds left in the first overtime to carry the La Verne men's soccer team to a 1-0 win over Whittier on Wednesday night at Graham Soccer Field.
Uribe pounced on a bad back pass by Whittier left back to his goalkeeper Jorge Rivas. Rivas rushed out to challenge Uribe just outside the penalty box but the ball squirted past him and Uribe chased it down and tapped it into the net to hand the Leopards a thrilling win. It was Uribe's 10th SCIAC goal of the season and his 12th overall.
With the win, La Verne improves to 10-4-1 in SCIAC play (13-4-1 overall) and keeps SCIAC Championship hopes alive. The Leopards can claim the championship with a win over Redlands on Friday and a loss by the Bulldogs in their season finale.
The Poets had a chance to get out to an early lead as they earned a penalty kick in the 16th minute. James Suri drilled a low shot to the left post, but La Verne goalkeeper Josh Ramirez guessed perfectly and dove hard to his right to make what turned out to be the game-winning save.
Ramirez was tested all night but was up to the task, collecting a career-high 10 saves.
La Verne had its share of opportunites but couldn't capitalize. Christopher Wong, who got his first career SCIAC start, was active early. But he missed just wide to the left in the fifth minute, had a shot saved by Rivas right after Suri's missed penalty and missed a shot just high in the 26th minute.
Justin Funes had a couple of chances in a span of 10 seconds late in regulation. In the 83rd minute, he beat both of Whittier's center halves and launched a shot to the left but had his effort saved by Rivas. Funes collected the rebound and had another look, but Rivas once again made a good save to send the game to overtime.
Nathan Gonzalez had a chance to end it moments before the golden goal with a good shot from 10 yards out but missed high.
Funes led the Leopards with five total shots and put three of them on goal. Gonzalez had four shots.
The Leopards finish the regular season at Redlands on Friday at 7 p.m. With a win or a draw, La Verne will secure at least the second seed and host the first round of the SCIAC Postseason Tournament on Nov. 3.