Overtime not kind to Falcons

LA CRESCENTA — The game clock kept ticking for about a minute while the members of the Crescenta Valley High girls' soccer team stood on their sun-splashed field stunned that their season had concluded in a most unexpected way.

It came not long after a defensive breakdown led to the Falcons' 2-1 overtime loss to visiting Martin Luther King in a CIF Southern Section Division II first-round match on Thursday afternoon.

The Falcons, who won their third Pacific League championship in a row, squandered a 1-0 lead in the second half and couldn't stop the Wolves' late surge.

Courtney Schwartz scored the game-ending goal five minutes into overtime. Schwartz took a pass from Alyssa Montejo and got behind a Crescenta Valley defender before lifting her shot past Crescenta Valley goalkeeper Allie Woodward.

"We were confident going into overtime," said Crescenta Valley first-year Coach Jorden Schulz, whose team finished 12-5-4. "[We] played our best game of the year and our best first half of the year.

"We took it to them early in the first half and had a 1-0 lead. They dominated the second half and tied it at 1. You just give credit to where it's due.

"I can't complain about the effort. We got a little unlucky and they drove harder at the end. They had a chance and they took it."

Crescenta Valley grabbed the lead in the 30th minute. Katie Callister launched a pass upfield that Bri Ismale tracked down. Ismale then lined a low shot past Martin Luther King goalkeeper Madison Horta.

The Wolves (12-5-3) got a fortunate break in the 47th minute to pull even.

A corner kick by Montejo was batted in the air by Woodward, but Rachael Webb pounced on the rebound and beat Woodward.

Both teams nearly won it in regulation after Webb's goal. Webb was foiled on a partial breakaway by Woodward in the 50th minute and Horta stopped a point-blank shot by Sierra Rhoads with about three minutes left.

Martin Luther King Coach Giovanni Napoletano, whose team finished third in the Big VIII League, said Crescenta Valley gave the Wolves all they could handle.

"They came at us with speed and aggression," Napoletano said. "They are a very good team.

"With games like this, you have to have some luck. We found the holes on the goals."

Woodward finished with five saves for the Falcons, including four in the second half. Horta stopped eight shots, five in the second half.

Crescenta Valley had four corner kicks in the first four minutes of the game and just missed scoring on two of them.

Schulz, who took over the program from Reggie Rivas, summed up the Falcons' season, which ended with two consecutive defeats.

"It was rocky, but good," said Schulz, a former Falcons player. "There's a lot of room for improvement and they know what they are going to need to work on.

"That's very evident. We gave them a good battle, but we just lost."

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