En route to winning the CIF Southern Section Division IV championship a season ago, the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team navigated its way through its share of nailbiters and frantic finishes.
Though it remains to be seen just how far the Falcons can go this time around, despite moving up to Division III, they showed they still have a flair for the dramatic, as Erick Trejo scored eight minutes into sudden-death overtime on Friday to lift Crescenta Valley past Placentia Valencia, 3-2, in the opening round of the playoffs.
“Oh my goodness,” said Falcons Coach Grant Clark, whose team will play fourth-seeded Century or Murrieta Valley in Wednesday’s second round. “We pushed every button we could today to win this one. It was a fun one.”
Off a pass from Justin Wright, Russell Carpenter beat his mark to a ball, brought the ball up and crossed to Trejo for the game-winner.
It was the final highlight and the conclusion to a monster comeback, as the Falcons (19-3-7), fell behind, 2-0, to Placentia (15-6-5), the second-place team out of the Empire League.
“That was one of the things that was fun to watch,” said Clark of how his team reacted to the deficit. “Nobody ever got on each other. ... They came through.”
Valencia took a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute and doubled its advantage on a penalty kick in the 53rd minute in which Falcons keeper Josh Cook made one of his four saves, but was unable to stop the shooter’s rebound shot.
Four minutes later, Pablo Sotillo put the Falcons on the board.
In the 65th minute, it was a brand-new ballgame after Wright scored off a Chris Sinani cross to knot the game.
“We played really good in both halves, they just got a breakaway and then we got a handball in the box,” Clark said.
Perhaps the dramatic outcome was a foreshadowing of fortune to come, as Crescenta Valley, which took second in the Pacific League this season, opened up last season’s playoff run with a dramatic 3-2 win over Laguna Beach in which it overcame a two-goal deficit to win in overtime.
“It’s a credit to the kids,” Clark said. “To be able to come back was a lot of fun.”