Flintridge Prep boys’ soccer tallies equalizer late to earn tie with La Cañada

LA CAÑADA — In the 56th minute of a nonleague boys’ soccer match, La Cañada High pulled ahead for a one-goal lead against Flintridge Prep.

The Spartans had plenty of chances in open play in the first half, while the Rebels’ opportunities in the first 40 minutes came from spot kicks. However, neither team could score.

La Cañada’s intensity faded after taking the lead and Flintridge Prep took advantage in the 76th minute, as sophomore Silas Chavez headed home the equalizer off a corner kick.

The goal ultimately resulted in a 1-1 draw in a nonleague match Saturday at Flintridge Prep.

“Right before the game started, our coaches told us to keep our composure,” Chavez said. “Even if we went down by one or two goals, just stay calm. We have enough good players that we’ll be able to tie it up and even win it.”

On the winner, Flintridge Prep sophomore Andrew Odom drove in from the left wing for a shot that was saved by La Cañada goalkeeper Nicholas Boghossian. The Rebels hit the rebound shot that ricocheted out for a corner, in which Chavez headed home in the final four minutes.

“As our chances grew, our boys grew confident,” Flintridge co-coach Stanley Curiel said. “I thought our second half was better than our first, and I think when we’re hitting the crossbar, when we’re hitting the post and when we’re in the final third, that let us play in the style that we really wanted to put out there on the field.”

The Rebels (6-2-1) picked up their pressure midway in the second half after the Spartans (6-3-3) scored the opening goal in the 58th minute. Junior forward Marcus Chmielewski popped in the goal on a low cross from winger Arian Shapourifar.

“We didn’t maintain the momentum,” Chmielewski said. “We scored the goal and we kind of just sat down. We gave away that poor corner because of a lack of marking, so I felt like if we kept our intensity like we did when we scored, we would’ve got another.”

The Spartans also had an opportunity three minutes before the goal off of another cross, but senior forward Will Chant saw his shot hit the bottom right post. Chmielewski was there to hit another shot off the rebound, but the chance was saved by Flintridge Prep goalkeeper Gabe Wallen.

“We failed today on finishing off what we got,” La Cañada coach Bruno Costa said. “If we get so much and you don’t [finish] it, your opponent can get a few, and [come back]. I think that’s the tough lesson we learned today.”

“[We’re] a little frustrated, but, still, I think we deserve a lot of credit for the effort and for the control.”

The Rebels had opportunities on a number of spot kicks in the opening 10 minutes of the match, but the Spartans quickly regrouped and controlled much of the possession in the home side’s final third.

Chmielewski had the best chance to put the Spartans in front with an 18-yard shot in the penalty area that just skidded past the left goal post.

“We had the most chances and then I felt like we got a little tired of trying so much and not capitalizing that builds up your opponent’s confidence,” Costa said. “We gave them a way to come up, especially on set pieces.”

In all, the Spartans had six shots on goal that were saved by Wallen in the first half.

“I was telling them at halftime that it won’t matter if we have 25 shots and they have one, if we don’t score ours and they score theirs, they win the game,” Costa said. “That’s what counts in the records.”

The Rebels started to regain composure in the Spartans’ half of the field in the final 10 minutes of the first half with chances from back-to-back corners in the 30th minute with a shot from Chavez and in the 31st minute with a header from sophomore forward Dylan McGahran.

“I think we were just overwhelmed with how technical the other team was, but we just went toe-to-toe with them,” Curiel said. “I told the boys that we were just going to come out here and dissect everything and hopefully our plan works out.”

The Spartans opened the second half with a penalty kick in the 48th minute with Matthew Brown taking the offering. The senior midfielder saw his shot go out wide, and the Rebels quickly countered the attempt with a 50th minute shot from Chavez that hit the top of the opposite corner post.

Twitter: @ReporterVince