Crescenta Valley soccer relieved by surprising result versus Muir

PASADENA — A tie may have sounded unappealing to the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team, while it probably would've been something Muir would be satisfied with coming into Friday's Pacific League opening match.

When it come to the final whistle and the Falcons and Mustangs found themselves deadlocked in a 2-2 draw at Muir High, the feelings were much different for both sides.

Crescenta Valley felt happy to start league with a point after giving up a goal to Muir's Alex Tapia with about two minutes left in regulation. The Mustangs were disappointed to see a win slip through their grasp when the Falcons' Pablo Hernandez found the net about a minute into stoppage time with a shot off a deep throw.

“I'm happy that we tied, we couldn't lose to that team,” Hernandez said. “We were looking for a win and actually expecting a win, it's kind of a big slap in the face right now, but we'll get back on our feet and probably win the next game.”

Given the fact the Mustangs (5-2-2) only had 12 players on hand, Muir Coach Mario Hernandez was “happy” with the result, but not content.

“It's kind of disappointing especially since our goal came just two minutes from the end,” Mario Hernandez said. “All we had to do was take care of it.”

Goals came in quick, short bursts before vanishing Friday. The first two goals of the game came in the first three minutes with the Mustangs getting on the board first before a quick answer from the Falcons (10-2-3).

That theme repeated itself with just a matter of minutes left to play. Benjamin Silva opened the door for Muir's final goal when he chipped a pass over Crescenta Valley's defense to Tapia, who slipped past the entire back line before directing a shot to the bottom right corner in the 78th minute.

It was a bit of redemption for Tapia, who had two other quality scoring chances in the 63rd and 71st minutes, but came up empty on both.

“It felt pretty good,” Tapia said of the goal. “I could have had those two other goals, but I just kept my head up and just focused on the next ball and it came through.”

Although Tapia had a few good scoring chances in the second half, it was the Falcons that created most of the good looks at goal in the final 40 minutes, but saw most of their shots go off target or not truly test Muir goalie Francisco Zuleta (five saves).

“Soccer is an evil sport sometimes because we felt like we played really well in the second half,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark, who was missing five players from his varsity roster, including captain Amir Hajimirsadeghi, Friday due to injuries or them being out of town. “When you give up a counter-attack goal like that emotions change real quick.”

Crescenta Valley had one last chance to avoid a loss on a deep throw in extra time. Erick Trejo threw the ball into Muir's box with Matt Ryan getting the first crack at it for CV, but his shot went off a Muir defender and bounced to Hernandez, who had two shots at the ball.

His first from his right foot went off a defender and back up to his left foot. His second shot from his left foot also went off a defender, but deflected into the left side of the net, leaving Zuleta with no chance at a save.

“We go from feeling like we should win the game to not being satisfied with a tie, but I'll take a tie over a loss,” Clark said of the late goal.

Muir took a 1-0 lead two minutes into the game when Luis Ramirez scored on a penalty-kick shot that was earned by Silva when he took a pass at midfield and worked his down the left side of the field and drew a foul as soon as he entered the top left corner of Crescenta Valley's box.

The lead was short-lived, as the Falcons' Justin Wright notched an equalizer on a corner about a minute later. Wright took the corner from the right side and bent the ball right onto the face of the goal, completely surprising Zuleta, whose attempt to knock it away was too late.

“I think the one thing we're going to take away from this, and hopefully the boys learned, nobody can be taken from granted [in this league],” Clark said. “You have to be prepared from the very first whistle to the last.”

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