Pablo Sotillo clutch again for Crescenta Valley soccer

BURBANK — Pablo Sotillo didn't mind the brief wait while several players battled for a loose ball inside the goal box.

The way things have been going of late for the Crescenta Valley boys’ soccer player, he figured a scoring opportunity would come if he could corral the ball.

Sotillo guessed right and scored the game-winning goal with seven minutes left to give visiting Crescenta Valley a 2-1 Pacific League road victory against Burroughs on Friday afternoon at chilly Memorial Field.

“I could see the scramble for the ball, and I was outside hoping it would get to me,” said Sotillo, who had both his team’s goals, as the Falcons improved to 13-1-4, 3-0-1 in league. “It came out to me and I got off a good shot.

“When you win these kind of games, you get that much more confidence.”

It marked the second time in the last three games that Sotillo has scored a winning goal in the second half for the Falcons, who have won three consecutive league championships and are ranked No. 2 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division III poll after winning the Division IV title last season. Sotillo scored in the second half Monday to give the Falcons a 1-0 win against Glendale.

Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark said he’s not surprised with Sotillo’s ability to score timely goals.

“Pablo has just got that knack,” said Clark, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Soccer Coach of the Year. “It doesn’t matter how pretty they are, just as long as they find the back of the net.

“This is three very big points for us. None of these league games are going to be easy and you saw that today. You have to expect a dogfight, no matter who is playing who.”

Burroughs (5-5-2, 2-2) gave Crescenta Valley all it could handle despite playing without three starters. The valiant Indians were without Manny Celio, Alberto Meier and Brandon Gerlach. The trio served automatic one-match suspensions after each receiving red cards in Burroughs’ league match against Pasadena on Wednesday.

Burroughs Coach Mike Kodama said the Indians fought through the absences.

“I thought we were able to step up and play well,” Kodama said. “This was a game that could have gone either way, but I liked the way we battled.

“There’s always the second round [of league] to still play.”

Crescenta Valley and Burroughs swapped first-half goals.

The Falcons opened the scoring in the 21st minute. A throw-in by Erick Trejo of Crescenta Valley was kicked in by Sotillo.

A minute later, Burroughs knotted it at 1. A shot by Burroughs’ Nolberto Alcantar was stopped by Crescenta Valley goalkeeper Josh Cook. The ball squirted off Cook’s hand and bounced off the far left goal post before Chuy Nunez headed the ball over the goal line.

The Falcons and Indians had a couple of good scoring chances in the second half. Crescenta Valley’s Daniel Eng lined a shot from about 25 yards off the right post in the 58th minute. Cook then stymied Nunez near the goal line in the 60th minute.

Burroughs goalkeeper Elliot Whitecotton then stopped Sotillo in the 66th minute by making a lunging save with his left hand.

Whitecotton finished with six saves. Cook had five saves.

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