A season ago, Crescenta Valley High’s boys’ soccer team rallied on the road in the opening round of the playoffs to defeat Placentia Valencia.
Once more, the Falcons found themselves in the same place, the same round and in a game with much the same, nailbiting feel.
But this time around, it was Crescenta Valley that was left with the sting of a dramatic end to its season, as Valencia prevailed, 1-1 (8-7) in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs on Thursday evening.
“It felt like the same thing as last year,” said Falcons Coach Grant Clark, whose team defeated Valencia, 3-2, in overtime in last season’s first round. “The back of the net just never wrinkled.”
Crescenta Valley ended its season at 22-4-4 after taking third in the Pacific League and winning its wild-card match on Tuesday against Highland, while Valencia (13-9-2), the Empire League champion, moved into Tuesday’s second round.
Justin Wright scored just past the midway point of the first half to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead after he picked off a pass and scored unassisted. Healso scored in the round of penalty kicks.
“Justin played a really good game and controlled the field,” Clark said.
Valencia countered in the 49th minute when Alexis Martin Del Campo scored off a cross on a shot almost from the backline.
“[Crescenta Valley goalie] Adan [Martinez] just couldn’t reach it,” Clark said. “It was in that hole that nobody could get to.”
Clark said the Falcons were a bit stunned after giving up the equalizer, but began to reassert themselves offensively with roughly 15 minutes to go in regulation.
The best chance came when Chris Sinani crossed a pass to Matt Ryan who found the back of the net, but was called for offsides.
The teams combined for 31 shots, with 21 on goal and the Falcons taking 17 shots overall.
“The [Valencia goalie] just kept on making save after save,” said Clark, who got nine saves from Martinez. “It was a fairly offensive game. There was no dilly-dallying in the midfield.”
The Falcons misfired on their first penalty kick after overtime, but after Falcons goalie Chris Mardiroussian, who was brought in for PKs, stopped Valencia’s fourth attempt, CV found itself in position to win in the seventh round when Mardiroussian got a hand on another ball. However, the shot trickled off his fingertips and in. Crescenta Valley couldn’t convert in the ninth round of PKs and Valencia came away with the win.
“I feel really bad for our seniors; they did a lot for our program,” said Clark, who loses nine seniors. “It’s tough when you go to PKs. It’s anybody’s game. It’s a rough way to end the season.”