Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer takes winning momentum into playoffs

ARCADIA — Whether the Crescenta Valley High boys’ soccer team will begin next week’s CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs on the road or at home and in the first round or in the wild-card section will not be known until Monday’s postseason pairings are released.

What is of assurance for the Falcons is that they’ll head into the second season with the confidence of playing some of their best ball of the year, which continued Thursday afternoon as, Crescenta Valley closed out the regular season with a 2-0 win versus Arcadia at Civic Park in Pacific League play.

With the victory, the eighth-ranked Falcons closed their season with a 21-4-3 overall record and a 10-3-1 mark in league play, which translates into a third-place finish in the hyper-competitive Pacific League behind Burroughs and Pasadena.

“Early on in league I don’t think we played that well,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark, whose team has won the last four games by a combined score of 20-1. “I think that Burroughs game (a 1-0 loss on Feb. 3) was the turning point for us. Even though it was a loss, we shared the ball really well and played good defense, somewhat like today.”

The Falcons sealed the contest in the 62nd minute, already leading, 1-0.

Crescenta Valley senior forward Chris Sinani received a ball 10 yards past midfield and sprinted toward the opposing sideline well ahead of his defender.

By the time two Apaches closed on Sinani, the striker lofted a high-arcing floater that teammate Eric Hartoonian banged in from six yards out to put the Falcons ahead, 2-0.

“What a diagonal,” Clark said of Sinani’s pass. “That was a cross. For him to hit that shot and for Eric to finish it off, that was nice.”

For Hartoonian, the score erased what was a frustrating first half of near makes for the Falcons.

“It was just a matter of taking better shots,” Hartoonian said. “We had a lot of chances in the first half and couldn’t score. So, it was nice to finish.”

Hartoonian’s score was the second for the Falcons of the second half, as junior halfback Justin Wright connected on a left-to-right goal in the 44th minute created on an attack started in the middle and then crossed from the left by junior forward Jason Winicki.

Perhaps lost in the Falcons’ offensive flurry in the second half was another stout defensive effort from Crescenta Valley’s backline.

The quintet of Daniel Eng, Cedric Abad, Shyan Chachi, Augustine Ahn and Daniel Chang limited the amount of looks against Falcons goalie Adan Martinez, who finished with six saves.

Both teams had their chances in what ended up being a scoreless tie at the half.

Maybe Crescenta Valley’s best chance came in the 34th minute when a solid through ball from Wright was smacked just wide right by Crescenta Valley’s Matt Ryan from 20 yards just as Ryan was slide-tackled from behind.

Three minutes later the combo of Wright-Ryan hooked up again, this time with a shot from Ryan that was wide left.

Ryan was also denied in the 14th minute when he knifed through the Apaches defense inside the penalty area and had goalie Elmasri Yusuf guessing left on a shot to his right.

Fortunately for the Apaches, defender Adam Alonzo was in position for a score-saving field block on a shot off his front heel.

Crescenta Valley also had a try with 12 minutes to go before the half when junior Sameen Islam threaded a through ball between two Apaches defenders to Winicki, who directly fired forward into the grasp of Yusuf.

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