For more than 80 minutes of Thursday's CIF Southern Section Division VI first-round game, the Flintridge Prep boys' soccer team played top-seeded Ontario Christian even on the scoreboard and, if you ask Rebels Coach Matt Bowden, even outplayed the Knights for most of the match.
But, although overtime seemed imminent as regulation wound down, Prep's upset bid and season died in the waning ticks of injury time when Ontario Christian forward Cody Catano scored on a quick counter-attack goal for a 2-1 win.
"It was a great effort, but unfortunately we just fell short," said Prep Coach Matt Bowden, whose team advanced to the first round with a 3-2 wild-card win over Yucca Valley on Tuesday. "They're the No. 1 seed, so for us to go in as a wild card and push them all the way — I think ultimately over the course of the game we were the better team — and unfortunately they just got to us at the end."
Catano, who scored both of the Knights' goals in similar fashion, thwarted a Rebels' attempt to clear a ball from their box with a steal, made a couple of moves and got inside a defender for a good look at the game-winner, Bowden said.
"It was literally a clearance out of nothing and five seconds later the ball's in the net and we haven't got much time to recover," Bowden said. "It was a bit of a sucker punch because that was really the only way they could score and, unfortunately, they did."
Catano put the Knights up, 1-0, midway through the first half when the Rebels (8-8-1) lost a ball in their own half and couldn't recover defensively, Bowden said.
But Roy Yu came through with an equalizer for Prep in the 50th minute and Bowden said his team continued to keep pressure on Ontario Christian (19-3-1) right until the end.
"We had the majority of possession in their territory," Bowden said. "They were dangerous on the counter-attack because they had some very good players up further on the field and every time they won the ball they would play it long up to them and hope that they would do something out of nothing."