LA CRESCENTA — As time was winding down in Friday’s match in the the Crescenta Valley Winter Classic, the Hawthorne boys’ soccer team held a one-goal advantage over Crescenta Valley.
With about eight minutes left, Falcons junior midfielder Derek Keshishian scored the equalizer, but the Cougars responded with two minutes left in regulation to restore their one-goal lead.
Then, in the waning moments of the match, a Crescenta Valley cross flew into the Hawthorne penalty area and bounced off of the top of the crossbar and fell right to Keshishian.
The winger knocked in the second equalizer of the match from close range and Crescenta Valley escaped with a 2-2 draw against Hawthorne on the final pool-play day of the tournament.
“We’re happy to get out of here with a tie,” Crescenta Valley coach Grant Clark said. “We probably should’ve lost this game. They score and we give up a goal with two or three minutes to go. We were able to steal that one away.”
Keshishian started the first half of the match, but was substituted for midway into the second half and his impact was near immediate as his presence stretched the attack for much of the final minutes.
The junior tied the score at 1 in the 72nd minute when he found a lob-pass that came deep from the Crescenta Valley penalty area on the Falcons’ counter attack. Keshishian darted toward the left side of the Hawthorne penalty box and slotted home the goal to the opposite corner.
“I just thought I just had to score,” Keshishian said. “There’s no way I can miss this. It was 1-0 and not much time was left so I had to score. If I didn’t score then, we would’ve lost.”
Hawthorne mounted immense pressure around the Crescenta Valley box three minutes later and in the 78th minute, Cougars forward Oskar Gomez played a one-two ball straight down the middle to score his second goal of the game and put his side ahead, 2-1.
A minute later, the Falcons (5-5-2) continued their attack down the right flank, where their cross ricocheted off the crossbar for Keshishian’s second goal.
“We’re not playing the best soccer right now, but I think the big takeaway from today is that we play hard and when things aren’t going your way, the only way to really create chances is a lot of hard work,” Clark said. “It finally materialized for us at the end.
“Derek’s been having a rough season, so I’m really happy for him to get those two goals because he worked really hard for them.”
Not much separated the teams in the first half, but Hawthorne (6-9-1) created more chances than Crescenta Valley.
Though the Cougars caught sight of goal in the 22nd minute, they couldn’t find a more threatening opportunity with three other shots hit wide.
The Cougars nearly pulled ahead in the 37th minute as senior David Barba saw his potential go-ahead goal whistled offside.
Hawthorne broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute as senior Luis Vazquez locked in on a through pass and went one-on-one with Crescenta Valley goalkeeper Bode Wyss. The Falcons keeper caught the senior’s leg in the penalty area, and the center referee called for a spot kick, which Gomez rocketed home for the 1-0 lead.
Crescenta Valley had its best scoring chance in the 62nd minute as Jesus Peña found a through ball from Keshishian, but the senior’s shot was directed straight at the Hawthorne goalkeeper.
Eight minutes later, Hawthorne nearly doubled its lead on a free-kick opportunity, but the Cougars saw their chance hit the top of the crossbar and played back into the Falcons’ possession.
The Falcons face Sylmar at 11 a.m. Saturday in the fifth-place match. They will resume Pacific League play Friday against Pasadena.
“It’s a good build up going back towards league,” Clark said. “I think as far as the tournament’s concerned, I don’t think we got everything out of the tournament that we wanted to get, partly because of losing kids to injuries and vacation. But it is what it is.”