LA VERNE, Calif. — Jessica Hernandez struck twice in the second half to lift the University of La Verne women's soccer team to a 2-0 victory over Chapman on Wednesday night at Ortmayer Stadium.
It was a much-needed win for La Verne as it remains alive in the hunt for a berth in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. The Leopards improve to 4-6-1 in SCIAC play and 6-7-2 overall. Chapman falls to 5-10-1 overall and 1-9-1 in the SCIAC.
After struggling to create any dangerous moment in the first half, the Leopards flipped the switch in the second half and was able to find two goals.
"We played good soccer in the first half but weren't dangerous in possession," La Verne head coach Lauryn Pehanich said. "I asked of our players at halftime, 'Can we attack? Can we go forward and can we create more chances?' They responded."
The opening goal was set up brilliantly by Maribel Duran. Duran received the ball on the right wing and made two hard cuts to lose her defender and served in a good cross into the box. Hernandez found a pocket of space and volleyed in the cross for the winner in the 53rd minute.
Hernandez then came up with the dagger in the 71st minute when collected a loose ball in the box, danced around confused Chapman defenders and fired a shot into the back of the net.
"It was a much needed win but the way we played was much more needed," Pehanich said. "We've been focusing on getting back to 'us,' which means keeping the ball and creating more opportunities.
"Tonight they did that and they got a result because of it."
La Verne goalkeeper Jasmine Valadez turned away six attempts on goal—including three clear Chapman chances in the first half—to earn her third clean sheet of the season. The freshman is averaging seven saves over the last five games and is second in the SCIAC in saves.
"She's stepped up big time," Pehanich said of her netminder. "The goalkeeper position is one that teams highly rely on. She's training really well, she's learning every single day and she's stepping up in games. We're very excited with her progression and she's keeping us in games right now."
La Verne will need at least two wins out of the remaining three games to have a shot at the playoffs. The Leopards begin their most critical stretch of the season at Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.