ARCADIA — Historically, bad fortune has often come the way of the Crescenta Valley High girls' soccer team at Arcadia High.
And when the latest installment of the heated rivalry occurred on Friday with first place in the Pacific League at stake, it was the same, classic bitter rivalry and, unfortunately for the Falcons, it was more bad fortune.
On the strength of a pinball score from senior Sarah Rock off a corner kick in the 56th minute, Arcadia defeated visiting Crescenta Valley, 1-0.
"We always know that it's gonna be a good game," said Falcons Coach Jorden Schulz, whose team fell to 7-4-1 overall and 5-1-1 in league, while Arcadia jumped out of a first-place tie, as it improved to 8-4-2, 6-0-1. "Arcadia does very, very well at home. They always have."
Over the last four seasons — with the previous three ending with the Falcons as league champions — Crescenta Valley has lost just four total league games and three have been to Arcadia with two on the road. In a span dating back to 1997, Crescenta Valley has defeated Arcadia just three times on the latter's home field.
Just as the outcome was nothing new, neither was the intensity, as the game was physical and hard-fought throughout.
"It was really everything I expected. It was a physical, scrappy game," said Arcadia Coach Ryen Piszyk, who was coaching in his first game in the rivalry. "We didn't play our best, but we ground out a victory and put the ball in the back of the net and, in the end, that's all that matters."
Truth be told, the ball actually never got all the way to the back of the net, but it got past the goalline and just enough through the grasp of a diving Jessi Magallon in the Falcons net to count for the game-winner.
During a span of roughly 16 minutes to open the second half in which Arcadia dominated possession and seemed to have an endless amount of corner kicks and up-close free kicks and throw-ins, it seemed inevitable that the Apaches would eventually score. It came to fruition when Rachel Schroeder put a corner kick to the far post that pinballed off at least three different players before touching Rock and going in low despite a phenomenal Magallon effort.
"You just can't have a ball bouncing around in the box for that long," Schulz said of all the Apaches' opportunities on set pieces. "It never turns out well."
The game, for the most part, was relatively evenly played with Arcadia notching a slight possession advantage, Crescenta Valley winning the shot battle, 13-11, the Apaches taking their biggest advantage in the air on 50-50 balls and both teams taking turns at runs of sustained control and momentum.
"Momentum is one of those funny things," Schulz said. "You either have it or you don't. They had it and they rode it and they scored a goal."
But almost immediately following the Apaches' score, CV took off on its most dominating run of play of the match, one that would last until the final whistle, as it took all seven of its second-half shots after the score.
Seconds after the ensuing kickoff, Arcadia goalie Adriana Maldonado challenged for possession and collided with a Falcons player. Maldonado didn't get up, but the play kept going with a frantic scrum that did not yield a shot until Lisa Kang got a great look and a great chance only to have it saved along the backline by an Arcadia defender. Seconds later, Maldonado scrambled back and saved a nice shot by Sierra Rhodes.
Later, Mea Zuiderveen may very well have taken the Falcons' best shot on a line drive to the near post that Maldanado made a spectacular diving save on.
"She played out of her mind today," said Piszyk of his keeper, who had seven saves.
Crescenta Valley was also awarded a free kick from the nine-yard line after Grace Keller was running to the goal and knocked down by an Arcadia defender. The call was met with loud discontent from the home crowd, but Mallory Carcich's ensuing low kick was met by the defenders' wall and her rebound attempt found the same fate.
Carcich, who later took a head butt to the back of her head on a header attempt, and Arcadia's Nailah Elmasri were both given yellow cards during a game that was, "by far," Arcadia's most physical game according to its coach and, for CV, according to Schulz, second only to a 1-0 loss to Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy earlier in the season. Perhaps most evident of that was Keller, a speedy freshman who didn't shy away from contact, but took a beating herself, having to leave the game in the first half as both her elbows and both her knees were bloodied before she returned heavily taped up.
Both coaches are expecting the same thing when the rivalry makes its annual stop at Crescenta Valley.
"I expect even worse — physical game, scrappy," Piszyk said. "Right now, we know they're gonna be gunning for us."
The game will take place Feb. 9, as both teams' regular-season finale.
"It was a very typical Arcadia game," Schulz said. "I think we're all excited for three weeks [from now] when they come to CV."