LA VERNE, Calif. — The University of La Verne men's soccer team exploded for three goals in a span of less than six minutes in the second half to defeat Whittier, 4-1, on Wednesday night at Ortmayer Stadium.
With the win, La Verne improves to 10-4-1 in SCIAC play (14-4-1 overall) and move into a tie for second place with Chapman with one game remaining. Whittier finishes the season 5-11-2 overall and 4-10-2 in the SCIAC.
The Leopards have already punched a ticket to the SCIAC Postseason Tournament but the seedings are far from settled. Redlands clinched the SCIAC Championship and the No. 1 seed, but La Verne, Chapman and Occidental can finish in any of the three remaining spots depending on the outcome of Saturday's games.
Then the floodgates opened. In the 65th minute, left back Harim Coronado intercepted a poor clearance off a corner and put in a picture-perfect cross to the head of Humberto Irra, who put it into the net to give the Leopards a 3-1 lead.
Just 52 seconds later, as Whittier pressed high, Gonzalez dispossessed the Poets in the midfield and freed up Briley Venti for a 1-on-1 chance with Whittier goalkeeper Jorge Rivas. Venti calmly tucked it away into the bottom left corner to seal the game for La Verne.
Gonzalez opened the scoring in the 40th minute with a left-footed bomb from the edge of the penalty box. He was all over the field on Tuesday night, notching five attacking points and registering a total of nine shots. Gonzalez has six goals in the last four matches.
Before the game, the Leopards honored the careers of their five seniors with a brief ceremony. Darrin Bangle, Ryan Barron, Harim Coronado, Nick Gonsalves and Ko Yajima were accompanied by their families on the field as the team presented them with gifts.
The Leopards will finish their regular season at Redlands on Saturday at 7 p.m.