NORTHEAST GLENDALE — The Flintridge Prep boys' soccer team has been playing behind since the season started, with two of its first four scheduled games being canceled, and found itself playing catch-up in a different way on Wednesday afternoon at the Glendale Sports Complex.
The Rebels fell behind visiting St. Genevieve midway through the first half and stayed in pursuit until eventually getting an equalizer from Manny Perez 10 minutes into the second half. Subsequent efforts to pass up the Valiants ultimately fell short, though, as Prep settled for a 1-1 tie and its first point of the season.
"A little bit, I think we deserved at least a tie," first-year Prep Coach Matt Bowden said when asked if the team was satisfied with a draw. "We had some great opportunities on counter-attacks and breakaways and we just needed to make that final pass at the right time or a little bit quicker or draw a defender in. It's frustrating at times, but you're happy to at least get a point out of the game, we deserved it."
Prep's first strong chance of the second half came in the 47th minute, when Chris Wirthlin lofted a cross out of the far right corner into the middle of the goal box, only to see it intercepted by Valiants goalkeeper Gabriel Dorame. The Rebels (0-1-1) wouldn't have to wait long for their next opportunity, one which led to a game-tying score.
From near the midfield stripe, Perez passed out of a crowd of defenders to Roy Yu nearby on the wing and Yu quickly touched it back to Perez as he made his run up the field. Perez easily shed his mark and soon had a clear path to the goal, as St. Genevieve (2-2-1) seemed content to wait for an offsides whistle. But one never came and Perez quickly found himself one on one with Dorame, who he beat with a low ground shot to tie the game.
"It kind of opened out for him," Bowden said of the scoring play, Prep's first goal of the season. "I think they had a breakdown in defense and I think their coach was calling for offsides, but [Perez] took it himself and they were a little bit slow to react. That's the only time our team had a little bit of a breakdown, I think, and we managed to get through. When he was one on one, I was pretty confident he would score."
Prep kept pushing, mounting a breakaway with numbers that was called off by an offsides and seeing a handful of corner kicks and throw-ins near the goal go nowhere, but also kept the Valiants from cashing in several of their own chances to retake the lead. With two minutes left, Prep goalkeeper Clayton Weirick (eight saves) broke up a run on the goal by Javier Moran with a sliding stop and then made a grabbing save on a follow-up shot seconds later.
St. Genevieve scored its goal in the 19th minute when Steven Moz dribbled left into the goal box before nudging a shot into the lower right corner.
Prep had its chances in the first half, missing on a couple of good looks, but didn't register a shot on goal until Perez' score.
"It was a good finish and we needed it," Bowden said of the Rebels' lone goal of the match. "It was a good time to score. Unfortunately, we just couldn't get the second one."