BURBANK — By driving home two goals in the waning minutes of the first half to take a three-goal lead, the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team had essentially put away an overmatched Burroughs squad by halftime.
The lopsided score didn't take the fight out of either side, however, as the anticlimactic second half still featured plenty of color — yellow and red, mostly.
Between both sides, a total of nine cards were meted out over the final 40 minutes of Crescenta Valley's 4-0 Pacific League win, for offenses including various fouls, arguing with officials and a brief dust up between two opposing players.
"We just play physical, both teams play physical," said Crescenta Valley forward Pavle Atanackovic, who scored two of the Falcons' goals, but also picked up a pair of yellow cards in the second half. "In my opinion, in our opinion, I think the refs just lost control of the game. It wasn't us, it wasn't them, I think the officiating was just bad."
Four total red cards were issued, beginning with CV's Michael Shahnazarians' hard red, which he earned for shoving Alex Avelar-Escalante with two hands in the chest after the two squared off at midfield in the 52nd minute. Avelar-Escalante drew a yellow card for his role in the skirmish and ended up with a soft red when he was dealt another yellow for a foul 17 minutes later.
Atanackovic and Burroughs' Govanni Medina were also saddled with soft red cards for their double-yellow violations, which carry a mandatory suspension for the team's next match, according to Rule 2413, Article 2 of the CIF Blue Book.
"Our guys responded to the way the game was being called," said Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark, whose team improved to 11-0-6 and a league-best 7-0-2 to widen its lead over Pasadena and Arcadia to nine points. "For the way the game was being called, I thought they actually responded fairly well."
Following Shahnazarians' ejection, the Falcons played down a man for the duration of the contest, as players who receive hard red cards cannot be substituted. It hardly slowed their domination of the match, though, as the Indians couldn't stop Pablo Sotillo from taking a ball over the middle from Matt Schmutzer and punching it in for a 4-0 lead in the 59th minute. After taking its first shot on goal in the opening minute of the second half, Burroughs (5-8-2, 4-3-1) would get just one more attempt in the game.
"They had the better team," said Burroughs Coach Mike Kodama, whose team dropped to fourth place in league. "They beat us to the ball, they scored on their opportunities. The two goals at the end of the first half were a killer. Basically, the game was over then."
Indeed, it was.
"Especially with our backline," Clark said of how insurmountable the Falcons' lead was. "Matt Schmutzer and Matt Bracht in the back do a great job and Tony Royer's really stepped up. Those guys, they handle everything. Anything that came into the area, they were able to head it out or bring it down and get rid of the ball."
Crescenta Valley led almost from the onset after Atanackovic received the ball off a corner kick from Alex Berger wide open in the goal box and poked it home for a 1-0 lead inside the first minute of play.
Burroughs' defense held fast for the next 35 minutes before Shahnazarians sent a high ball into the box where the Indians' keeper came out and knocked it out of the air, but couldn't secure it. The ball bounced once in front of Atanackovic, who knocked a sliding shot into the empty goal.
Just one minute later Crescenta Valley put a stranglehold on the game when Berger's throw from the right side of the Indians' goal traveled all the way to Erick Trejo on the left post for an easy goal.
"We just wanted to score early," Atanackovic said. "I got a beautiful ball from the corner [on the first goal]. ...That gave us the lead and kind of pumped us up and got us going."