PASADENA — As the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team trailed its Pacific League match against Muir from nearly the beginning on Friday, Falcons Coach Kiel McClung continued to preach patience from his position on the sideline.
Sure enough, the goals came eventually, with Salar Hajimirsadeghi and Alex Berger finding the back of the net for Crescenta Valley inside the last 10 minutes to salvage a 2-2 tie on the road.
And, while the Falcons were relieved to avoid a loss, the emotions were a bit mixed, as the result saw the Mustangs remain in first place in league despite an overwhelming shot and opportunity advantage for CV, not to mention a defensive gaffe midway through the second half that allowed Muir to score its second goal without even having to take a shot.
"Starting from the back in the first half, we just had too many mistakes," said McClung, whose team took 19 shots to Muir's seven and controlled the game particularly well in the second half. "To have the amount of chances that we did and only put two in the back of the net is frustrating for me as a coach. In the second half, we had a good eight to 10 chances, and good chances.
"That part's frustrating, to walk away with a tie, but we got a point on the road and that's the one positive note. They came back and battled and they never gave up."
One point behind Muir (3-0-1 in league) in the standings to start the day, the Falcons (4-2-4, 2-0-2) had a chance to leapfrog into first place with a win. But it became an uphill battle in the eighth minute when Muir's Jorge Castro charged the goal and blasted a shot into the right corner for a 1-0 lead.
Still down by a goal to begin the second half, Crescenta Valley put four of its first five shot attempts on goal, including a pair of near identical looks from roughly 15 feet out by Berger within a three-minute span, which were both saved by Muir goalkeeper Peter Tapia. Tapia entered the game for starter Miguel Magana when Magana picked up a red card in the 19th minute and finished with six saves, four in the second half.
The Falcons continued to maintain good activity and pressure on the offensive end, but fell into a 2-0 hole in the 58th minute when a CV defender attempted to clear a ball but kicked it right into Castro. The sharp deflection rolled right into the Falcons' vacated goal.
"Credit to their forward for putting pressure, but we had too many silly mistakes today," McClung said.
Crescenta Valley's rally began with a 70th-minute tally by Hajimirsadeghi, who was in the right place at the right time to get an open shot when Berger's cross to Pavle Atanackovic was deflected by a Mustang.
Four minutes later, Berger fired a shot from about 25 yards out with defenders converging on him that got just over Tapia's reach and into the upper right corner. One minute after that, Muir got its first shot of the second half.
"They're tough to play at home," McClung said. "I think I've got to take a step back and focus more on the positive that we did come back and we did pick up a point on the road."