LA CRESCENTA — There's no spare time to relax in the Pacific League and the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team was reminded of that by visiting Wednesday night.
The Falcons appeared to be on their way to victory when they took a two-goal lead in the 49th minute. The Bulldogs refused to leave Crescenta Valley empty handed, however, as they rallied for two goals in the final 19 minutes to end the game in a 2-2 tie.
“In the four years that I've played here, I've never even gotten close to a tie here, so it feels great,” said Pasadena goalie Jimmy Castillo, who finished with a goal and five saves, including one in the 73rd minute to secure the point for the Bulldogs (9-2-1, 4-1-1 in league). “I don't think we've ever won on this field here ever and this practically feels like a win, even though it's not.”
Pasadena opened the door on a comeback in the 61st minute when Emilio Garcia drew his second penalty-kick foul of the game. Castillo fooled his counterpart and kicked it straight ahead, waist high for the goal, which cut the deficit to 2-1.
The goal brought hope and momentum to the Pasadena sideline and frustration to Crescenta Valley's side, which had taken issue with the officiating with foul calls, offsides and penalty kicks awarded throughout the game.
“We had them on the ropes and we let them off,” said Falcons Coach Grant Clark, whose team fell to 13-1-5, 4-0-2. “Whether or not the penalty kick was warranted, it was given. As a kid, you've got to be able to bounce back from tough calls and tough plays. We're still obviously working on that.”
Both sides expressed frustration with the officiating with Pasadena's Yezid Lopez getting yellow carded in the 78th for arguing a foul called him. The game escalated into a chippy affair in the final 10 minutes with both looking for a game-winning goal.
“It escalated into a very hot, very high game, but as a team we have to stay mentally focused and not let the referee get to you,” Castillo said.
Two minutes after Castillo's goal, Clark was yellow-carded for arguing an offsides call, which halted a CV attack that was called when CV's Pablo Sotillo intercepted a backward pass from Pasadena.
The card led to a free kick from about 40 yards out for Lopez, whose deep shot was tip saved by the Falcons goalie. Lopez whipped the ensuing corner kick into the crowded box. The ball went off his teammate Oscar Venegas' back and into the goal to finish the scoring.
“It wasn't an actual shot just miscommunication in the back,” Crescenta Valley defender Rani Dimashki said. “We just got unlucky on that one.”
Lopez said the goal was by no means lucky, but the product of hard work and clever play from Venegas.
“We just worked hard, didn't give up and just kept playing as a team,” Lopez said of the comeback. “It was an amazing, priceless feeling [when Venegas scored].”
Dimashki produced the first score of the day on a deep throw-in from Erick Trejo in the 28th minute. Dimashki stood at the near post of Pasadena's goal with Trejo throwing the ball in from the left side of the field and onto Dimashki's head. The senior directed it straight up into the air, over the goalie and just inside the far post to give Crescenta Valley a 1-0 lead.
It was a bit of vindication for Dimashki, who appeared to have opened the door for a Pasadena goal two minutes earlier when he was whistled for a foul on Garcia in CV's six-yard box. The penalty kick was shanked way left, though, to keep the game scoreless.
The Falcons came out strong in the second half and set up a beautiful goal nine minutes into the second half. Trejo launched an attack when he forced a steal at midfield and sent a through pass down into the right side of Pasadena's box to Justin Wright, who sent a low cross to Russell Carpenter on the left side. Carpenter knocked the ball into the low left corner to give Crescenta Valley a two-goal cushion.
While the victory keeps the Falcons on top of the league standings by a point over second-place Pasadena, it was still a frustrating result. CV controlled the game, especially the second half, for nearly the entire way until the final 20 minutes.
“I think we kind of lost energy in the second half,” Dimashki said. “Being in the Pacific League you can't play 70 minutes in a game, you have to play the full 80. … We have to work on conditioning and playing through the whole game.”