LA CRESCENTA — In making its deepest playoff run in program history, the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team did so by catching a few breaks.
On Friday afternoon, in the middle of a steady downpour, the breaks went against the Falcons. From a slick field to an own goal to a red card that resulted in the Falcons playing more than half of their CIF Southern Section Division IV quarterfinal match shorthanded, their luck ran out.
Crescenta Valley saw its season come to a close with a 3-1 loss to second-seeded El Rancho.
"Luck just wasn't on our side this time," said Crescenta Valley second-year Coach Kiel McClung, whose team won its second Pacific League championship before posting one-goal playoff wins against Diamond Bar and North Torrance. "We had some things go against us."
Rain began to fall about two hours before the start of the match, making for a wet playing surface. El Rancho (20-2-1) led throughout, highlighted by an own goal that was accidentally knocked in by a Crescenta Valley defender that made it 2-0. The final strike against the Falcons (15-3-5) came when Salar Hajimirsadeghi was given a red card for knocking down an El Rancho player near the end of the first half. That forced Crescenta Valley to play one man down for the remainder of the contest.
The Falcons couldn't regroup.
"We were definitely unlucky with the red card and own goal," Crescenta Valley midfielder Alex Berger said. "We played well, but we were just unlucky."
The Dons, who captured the Del Rio League championship and will face third-seeded Cathedral or Ganesha in a semifinal match Tuesday, opened the scoring in the seventh minute. Erik Argueta came up the middle and lined a shot that skipped past stunned Crescenta Valley goalkeeper Nick Ruiz.
After Ruiz made several diving saves to keep it a one-goal match, a centering pass by El Rancho's Cristian Roldan was put into the net by Crescenta Valley defender Chris Fierro in the 35th minute.
The Falcons came back a minute later when Berger crossed a pass to forward Pavle Atanackovic, who beat El Rancho goalkeeper David Lopez.
Any momentum the Falcons had after Atanackovic's goal disappeared.
Hajimirsadeghi went up for a loose ball with an El Rancho forward. The head official ruled that Hajimirsadeghi knocked down the opponent and was given a red card.
"That's the first own goal we have given up this season," McClung said. "Then, it makes it even tougher with the red card.
"I don't want to blame the referee for the loss, but that's a call that affected the outcome of the game."
El Rancho closed out the scoring when Argueta beat Ruiz on a low shot that rolled just inside the right post in the 65th minute.
"We won league and got far," Berger said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more except to win CIF.
"We'll try again next time."