LA CRESCENTA — In the first minute of play Friday afternoon, Crescenta Valley High's Sierra Rhoads had a good look, a good chance and a good shot that went right of the Arcadia net.
The quick chance drew applause from the home fans, but it hardly proved to be a foreshadowing of the game to come.
Good scoring chances were hard to come by for either team, making missed chances and those bestowed on the opposition loom large.
The Falcons had two excellent opportunities go awry, while the Apaches were bestowed with two that they took full advantage of to claim a 2-0 Pacific League victory at Crescenta Valley High.
“Hats off to [Arcadia], they came out and worked hard,” said Falcons Coach Jorden Schulz, “and for some reason the ball bounced their way and they took advantage of their chances.
“We had our chances and didn’t take advantage.”
The loss was the first in league play for the Falcons (9-3-1, 6-1 in league), ending a nine-game winning streak in the process.
“The pressure of being undefeated’s off,” Schulz joked.
But the quest for a fifth straight league title is still in full swing, as Crescenta Valley maintained its first-place position, with Arcadia (6-6-2, 5-1-1) tied with Burbank (5-1-1 in league) for second, after the latter defeated Burroughs, 1-0. Burroughs (5-2) is in fourth place.
Despite the two goals allowed, the Falcons defense didn’t play poorly, limiting Arcadia to seven shots. Senior Whitley Boller turned in a stellar game, but suffered a leg injury late in the contest that saw her limp off the field.
Like any loss to its archrival, Friday’s setback stung, but Schulz wasn’t disappointed in her team’s effort.
“I’m not at all upset with how they played, the intensity was there,” Schulz said. “Did we make mistakes? Of course.”
The first came on a controversial call against Falcons defender Sarah Worden, whose slide tackle on Arcadia’s Bailey Mushisky in the goal box resulted in a penalty kick. Schulz and the CV sideline disputed that Worden got all ball.
It made no matter, as Arcadia’s Rachel Schroeder got all of the back of the net on the subsequent penalty shot for a 1-0 lead in just the 14th minute.
The Falcons looked to counter shortly thereafter in a sequence started by a pass from Tiffany Austin along the right side to Lisa Kang. Kang carried the ball deep into the attacking third before a cross found Grace Keller. Keller’s shot from the left side was stopped by a diving Adriana Maldonado in net. Maldonado finished with six saves for the Apaches.
She couldn’t stop a Rhoads attempt in the second half, though.
Rhoads, who started the half with a solid look from 20 yards out that went over the net, was looking to a finish a brilliant sequence that saw Ani Hemelians bring a ball up to Keller, who then found Rhoads in the heart of the field. Rhoads was one on one with Maldonado and beat her to the right, but couldn’t beat the post.
“Honestly, the game could’ve gone either way,” Arcadia Coach Ryen Piszyk said. “I think we were extremely lucky to walk out unscathed [after the Rhoads attempt] and then we counter and score and that was it.”
An Arcadia free kick from midfield was initially saved as the ball sank on its way to the goal line, but couldn’t be corralled by the CV goalie. Adeline MacFarlane quickly tapped in the rebound from a foot out for a 2-0 lead in the 72nd minute to clinch the game.
“It’s a huge win, but we need to take it in stride. The way I look at it, we’re at halftime. We still have to play them again,” Piszyk said. “I don’t think there was a real deciding factor. It’s two evenly matched teams. It’s the Arcadia-CV rivalry, that’s what you’re gonna get when you come out and watch these teams.”
Much as Piszyk wasn’t ready to celebrate too much, Schulz didn’t want her team to dwell on the loss.
“We need to make sure we take away from this game the learning points,” Schulz said. “Instead of saying, ‘Oh my God, we lost to Arcadia, our season’s over,’ we need to realize we play them again in two and a half weeks and hopefully we’ll be ready then.”