LA CRESCENTA — It isn't often that two teams are left disappointed after a match, but such was the case for both the Muir and Crescenta Valley high boys' soccer teams after Friday afternoon's Pacific League contest.
Apparently, neither was satisfied after a 1-1 tie that may have been damaging to both teams’ Pacific League title hopes, as they fell further from league-leading Burroughs (10-5-2 overall, 7-2 in league).
“We’re still getting back players from injury and have been trying to learn the same system since the beginning of the season,” Mustangs Coach Mario Hernandez said. “Even though Crescenta Valley is an excellent team, we gave up a silly goal at the end and that just can’t happen.”
In the teams’ first matchup Jan. 4 at Muir, the Mustangs (8-5-5, 3-3-3) held a 2-1 lead heading into stoppage time only to surrender a goal to the Falcons’ Pablo Hernandez that led to a tie.
On Friday, while not quite as dramatic, the three-time defending league champion Falcons (15-2-6, 5-1-3) showed their resiliency again, this time when senior Pablo Sotillo banged in a corner kick that was deflected by goalie Jose Diaz (eight saves) into the net.
The goal led to an eruption of joy and relief from the Falcons’ bench.
“We had so many opportunities and we almost didn’t score,” Falcons sophomore midfielder Justin Wright said. “We should have scored more than one, but we didn’t do it. We have to find a way to finish.”
Sotillo’s goal was followed by two solid looks from Crescenta Valley, including when senior Rani Dimashki shot high by about two feet from 12 yards out one minute into stoppage time.
Previous to that, junior Chris Sinani shot wide from 30 yards in the 79th minute on a bullet.
“Sooner or later, we’re going to have to stop settling for these little one-point victories,” Falcons Coach Grant Clark said. “We’re going to have to figure out how to get more scores and wins.
“Right now, we gave away control of league to Burroughs and that means we’re going to need some help and we’re going to need to beat them when we face them (Feb. 1).”
Crescenta Valley’s goal matched an opportunistic score from the Mustangs in the 58th minute.
After Falcons defender Brian Ju pressured and helped steal possession away from Muir’s Esteban Barrientos in the 58th minute deep in Falcons’ territory, the loose ball spun around for moments before senior goalie Josh Cook (six saves) went after the ball after a challenge from the Mustangs.
Yet, Cook’s clear-out attempt went short and was intercepted by Barrientos, who fed teammate Luis Ramirez cutting down the opposing touchline.
Ramirez beat his defender and fired a right-to-left shot around Cook that scored from 12 yards and put Muir ahead, 1-0.
“Let’s just say, that shouldn’t have happened,” Clark said of the score.
The goal was one of a few precious opportunities for the Mustangs, who missed in the 47th minute when co-captain Benjamin Silva rifled a 20-yard shot that required a sturdy save from Cook.
Silva also had a shot from 15 yards hit off the left post and bounce out of play in the 32nd minute set up off a great cross from Ramirez.
“I’m disappointed because we could have won, we could have scored more,” Silva said. “We just went too fast. It was a good game and they gave us a good challenge, but we could have won this.”