LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — Nearly two weeks into the season, the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team has mastered the art of winning one-goal matches.
While the Falcons would like to post a lopsided victory, they aren’t complaining about constantly being involved in close matches. They proved it again Friday night by creating their own break.
Erick Trejo scored late in the first half on a shot that skipped along the slick surface and in off the hands of Taft goalkeeper Rob Ramirez to give Crescenta Valley a 1-0 win in a quarterfinal contest of the Ralph Brandt Tournament at St. Francis High’s Friedman Field.
Crescenta Valley improved to 6-0-1 and will meet El Camino Real or North Hollywood in a semifinal match at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Burroughs High. The Falcons improved to 5-0 in one-goal matches.
“We are definitely getting plenty of experience playing in these one-goal games,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark, whose team won the CIF Southern Section Division IV championship last season and is ranked No. 1 in the latest Division III poll. “Every coach would like to see their team win, 3-1, 4-1 or 4-0.
“We missed on some chances tonight, but they went right after it. I thought this was our best match over 80 minutes. We started off strong and finished strong.”
Taft (0-2-2) gave Crescenta Valley all it could handle. Crescenta Valley goalkeeper Josh Cook finished with six saves, including four in the second half.
Trejo, a reigning All-Area selection, took a pass from Justin Wright and rolled a 25-yard shot toward Ramirez. The ball appeared to catch Ramirez off guard and bounce in off his right hand.
“I was just trying to get a good shot on goal and the ball went past him,” Trejo said. “The field was slippery in certain places.
“We know that we are going to see each team we play coming at us hard. There’s going to be a lot of dogfights. These are the type of games that you can have in the playoffs.”
Cook proved to be at his best in the second half. Taft’s Jovany Arriaga lined a shot toward the left goal post, but Cook responded by diving across to make the save in the 60th minute.
“That was a huge save by Josh,” said Clark, who guided the Falcons to their third straight Pacific League title last season. “It was good to see him rebound.
“He felt like he gave up a couple of soft goals Thursday [in Crescenta Valley’s 3-2 nonleague home win against St. John Bosco] and he laid out on that shot and knocked it aside.”
Taft’s last best scoring opportunity came in the 77th minute. Christian Echeverria centered a pass through the crease that skipped past Christopher Stewart.
Ramirez’s best save came in the 15th minute. Eric Keshishian drove a shot that headed for the far right post, but Ramirez managed to turn the shot aside.
The championship match will be played at 7 p.m. Monday at St. Francis.