The La Cañada High boys' 7/8 soccer team hosted Santa Fe Middle School on April 5 at FIS. After a fairly slow start and after four missed shots on goal, La Canada was scoreless. Unfortunately, after three relatively unimpressive shots on goal, Santa Fe had the lead 2-0, and the fight was on.
Settling down and making many, linked, quick passes both inside and outside, La Canada continued to push the opponents defense, but continued to come up short.
But a few minutes later, Garrett Gray found himself with the ball inside the 18-yard mark, on the right side. After a quick right-footed shot, La Canada was down by one, where it stayed until half time.
The Spartans came out in the second half continuing to push Santa Fe, and no one pushed or frustrated the defense more than Nate Nitzkowski.
Ten minutes in the second half, Nitzkowski took a ball down the right side, crossed through the middle, then finally looked to be boxed in on the left side, but then cut back, swept the ball to his right foot and cracked a shot from 12 yards out that hit the goalie's hands so hard it made the spectators groan. Then it hit the back of the net to tie the score and provided the spectators with a chance to stand and cheer.
Five minutes later, Nitzkowski again took the ball down the right side, beat the outside defender, and pulled back a soft cross to the far post where Gray, running onto the ball, struck a solid header to the far post, just out of reach of the lunging goalie.
With the score 3-2, the 7/8 boys kept their cool and pressure on the Santa Fe defense. When Kevin Gerlach and Keith Becker came in to keep control of the midfield, it wasn't long before Gerlach's pass found Becker streaking down the right side.
The resulting cross to the 12-yard mark found the right foot of Gray where he volleyed the ball to the near post. It was Gray's seventh goal in two games.
The final 15 minutes were strongly fought as seventh graders Rasheed Akbarut, Rupert Allan, and Agassi Bagramyan kept Santa Fe off balance until the final whistle blew.
Nearly three weeks before, the Spartans hosted Village Christian at home and won, 8-0.
Highlights included Gray scoring four times (two headers and two 18-yard shots) before being pulled early in the second half.
Three other Spartans contributed. Nitzkowski had two scores and Ryan Upton and Derek Wong scored one goal each.