LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — Two things the St. Francis High soccer team has been prone to do this season combined into one mountain of frustration Wednesday night when Crespi visited Friedman Field for a Mission League game.
The Golden Knights held a two-goal advantage with 25 minutes to play, but saw the lead disappear after the Celts scored twice in the final 11 minutes.
The equalizer came in heartbreaking fashion — a matter of seconds before the final whistle. Crespi's Brian Quintero crossed a pass from the left side of St. Francis' six-yard box to the far post where an unmarked Patrick King-Templeton made a long run before knocking the ball into the goal to end the game at a 2-2 draw.
St. Francis Coach Glen Appels said his team has had the propensity to lose a man on the far post and give up late goals this season.
“Unfortunately, with 20 seconds to go in the game we lost a guy,” Appels said. “We get one ball clear and we're on the right side of this one. Credit to Crespi for fighting back, but this one should have been over when it was 2-0.”
While the tie was a sign of what's been a frustrating year so far for St. Francis (2-5-5, 0-1-1 in league), it was one of progress for Crespi (3-7-2, 1-1-1).
“We've been in a lot of good games and played very hard,” Crespi Coach Rob Kodama said. “They're starting to work a little harder and get a little luckier all the time.
“St. Francis played as good as they've played in the past couple years. They're very tenacious themselves, we just happened to get the last 10 minutes on them.”
Frustration boiled over for the Knights and Celts at the end of what was a physical game throughout. Crespi's Anthony Tedeski went to grab the ball out of the net after King-Templeton's goal and St. Francis' Paolo Ramirez took offense and got in a tussle trying to pry it away him. Both Tedeski and Ramirez received red cards.
“It was very chippy the whole game — a lot of late hits early and high elbows,” Kodama said. “It's not the way games are supposed to end, but that's the way it went.”
St. Francis opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Frankie Veiga scored on an assist from Alex Pidoux. Pidoux went up for a 50-50 ball in the air and flicked it on to Veiga, who volleyed the shot past a charging Crespi goalie.
Pidoux added to the Golden Knights lead with a goal of his own in the 55th minute. The goal came off a deep throw-in from Veiga. St. Francis' Jacob Anderson headed the ball back to Pidoux, who buried it.
Crespi got on the board in the 69th minute when Elmer Molina fired a free kick off the post and saw the rebound go to Omar Valladares, who scored easily off the deflection.
“It's been a tough season so far... but we've been playing good soccer,” said Veiga, a junior. “We just have to go hard the whole time and no matter who's out there play our game. It's still early.”