After several hard-fought games, the undefeated La Canada 7/8 boys soccer team earned a well-deserved and "comfortable" 11-0 victory over the Village Christian Middle School 6/7/8 soccer team on March 24.
From the outset, the Spartans dominated the game with five different players scoring goals in the first half. Ryan Upton, Brian Blumenfeld, Cameron Meeker, Patrick Yew, and Diego Ruano, who scored twice, all had goals to make the score 6-0 at halftime.
The second half was all La Cañada as well, with many support players getting more game time. Four more goals were scored by the time the ending whistle blew, with Arash Mahboubi and Keith Becker scoring two goals each.
Under dark and threatening skies, the Spartans played a strong Santa Fe Middle School on the La Cañada High varsity field on March 25.
It was clear from the outset that the flat and predictable pitch of the field was going to play well for a team with strong technical skills. And that's exactly what happened.
The Spartans controlled much of the play in the first half, continuously pushing the ball through the middle of the field, easily getting the ball to the outside, then working the ball back into the middle with a cross. Several early shots missed wide, while a few others were cleared by an aggressive Santa Fe defense.
After two close offside calls, Matt Cannata worked the ball down the left side, and then crossed it into the middle to a rushing Mahboubi.
Mahboubi's first shot was blocked but he was able to keep possession and carried it back out to the outside. After a quick move to the end line, Mahboubi struck the ball toward the six-yard mark to a waiting striker.
It was the keeper who cut off the pass, but then couldn't collect the ball. Mahboubi was able to touch the ball back to a waiting Blumenfeld at the 12-yard mark where he struck the ball into the back of the net.
The rest of the half was back and forth, with players on both sides stepping up the intensity ? some a little too much. One La Cañada player was sent off the field, while two other Santa Fe players were warned.
A short time later, a Santa Fe player was taken down in the box and awarded a penalty kick. La Cañada goalie Scott Stetson stood his ground, while the Santa Fe player waited for the whistle. The shot missed wide right and four minutes later the halftime whistle blew.
Action in the second half was just as strong, with both teams working the ball from one side of the field to the other. However, the La Cañada defense continuously smothered Santa Fe's attempts to get a fast-break started by intercepting and double teaming any blue player near the midfield.
Defensemen Aidan Apel and Arshia Zare started several attacks after their take aways. Outlet passed to Upton and Ruano resulted in three separate breakaway opportunities, though each was thwarted by strong defensive play.
On one such breakaway, Ruano positioned himself just ahead of the defender as he closed on the goal, then was pushed off the ball, allowing the keeper easy access. It was on that play the referee called a penalty kick for the Spartans.
After some discussion (mostly from the Santa Fe coach), Meeker put the ball in the upper right corner of the net, and five minutes later, the boys from La Cañada had another win, 2-1.