PASADENA — Nine minutes in and the Crescenta Valley High boys’ soccer team was already out.
The Falcons surrendered two early goals in a chippy Pacific League match versus host Pasadena that included four yellow cards and one red in what was a rare Bulldogs 3-1 victory versus Crescenta Valley on Friday afternoon.
The loss marked the second defeat in five days for the Falcons (14-3-2 overall, 3-2 in league), the CIF Southern Section Division III top-ranked team, which entered this week having dropped one match in its 16 previous attempts.
On the flip side, unranked Pasadena (8-0-3, 3-0-2) notched its first win versus Crescenta Valley since Jan. 25, 2008, snapping a streak of eight consecutive winless matches.
“We just didn’t show up. It was half an effort, half a team out there,” Falcons Coach Grant Clark said. “There’s no way to sugarcoat it, we got our butts kicked because we didn’t decide to play today.”
Perhaps there is no way to downplay the first 10 minutes of the contest, as the Bulldogs attempted four shots, the first of those rattling for a goal in the third minute off a direct kick from sophomore Scott Schwartz.
Seven minutes later, Crescenta Valley went from stunned to floored as a seemingly innocuous cross from Bulldogs junior Yezid Lopez was received from sophomore Brendan Hildreth just outside the top left of the box.
Hildreth took possession and darted inside the penalty area while beating two defenders and peppering a shot into the left corner for a goal in the ninth minute that put Pasadena ahead, 2-0.
“That second goal killed them. That was really big for us,” said Pasadena Coach Cherif Zein, whose squad gathered at midfield shortly after the victory for a celebratory team photo. “In all my 21 years as head coach, this has got to be one of the smallest and least-physical teams I’ve ever coached.
“But they have heart and they weren’t going to give the game away after going up 2-0.”
A tough match for Crescenta Valley worsened in the 67th minute when Bulldogs junior Oscar Vanegas jumped a passing route between two Falcons defenders, stole possession 40 yards from net and ran toward the Falcons’ goal on a clean breakaway.
Vanegas then laced a 15-yard shot into the lower right corner of the net for a goal that put Pasadena comfortably ahead, 3-0.
“Honestly, this wasn’t too big of a surprise because Pasadena plays well at home,” said Clark, whose team tied Pasadena twice last season. “But again, we allowed ourselves to be taken out of the game and didn’t control our emotions or play.”
Clark was referring to a brief two-minute sequence that included the Falcons’ lone goal in the 68th minute on a 10-yard header from Kevin Ginosian off a corner kick from Chris Sanani.
“They scored early and they got to us,” Ginosian said. “Next time we play at our place, we’ll need to score early.”
The corner kick was taken by the Falcons 30 seconds after Jason Winicki rifled a 12-yard shot that required a diving save from Bulldogs goalie Isaac Monay.
Thirty seconds later Winicki and Pasadena’s Duncan Schwartz were both assessed yellow cards for arguing. Those cards were followed by a straight red card for “cussing” given to Sinani, who had earlier been tagged a yellow in the 53rd minute.