It was déjà vu for the La Cañada High boys’ soccer team. The Spartans watched as the ball went into the back of their net in overtime of the CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinals for the second year in a row.
The golden goal has proven to be La Cañada’s Achilles’ heel. Salesian got the best of the Spartans on a golden goal last year in a 1-0 win, and Carpentaria had them seeing double, beating La Cañada the same way, 1-0, at home on Friday.
The Warriors squeaked out the game’s only goal in the 94th minute. It was the first, and only, loss of the season for La Cañada’s (23-1-3), the No. 1 seed in the tournament. The loss also ended the dream of winning a CIF Southern Section championship and making a run in the state playoffs.
“Overtime is tough, especially with the memories of last year,” said La Cañada Coach Barry Ritson after his team’s second-round overtime win against Whittier Christian.
The Spartans pulled out the dramatic victory against the Heralds at home on Feb. 22. The game went all the way to penalty kicks, as La Cañada dodged the golden goal and came out on top, 2-2 (5-4 in penalty kicks).
Armand Bagramyan and Alex Lee scored for the Spartans against the Heralds. Cameron Meeker assisted on both goals. All five of La Cañada’s players converted their penalty kicks, while Spartan goalkeeper, Jack Hale, saved a penalty shot that proved to be the difference.
“Sooner rather than later we had to get lucky,” Ritson said. “Every team has to get lucky once, and we did. I’m not happy about the game though.”
The game was the Spartans worst performance of the season, Ritson said. It got worse on Friday when luck wasn’t on their side against Carpentaria.
La Cañada was tormented by the same demon in its final two games that Ritson had been preaching about the entire season — finishing in the final third of the field. The Spartans had more than 20 shots on goal against Whittier Christian and only managed to score just two.
“Coach [Ritson] kept saying we’d have a tough, really gritty game, where we wouldn’t finish our chances like this one,” said La Cañada forward Matt Canatta after the win against the Heralds.
It happened again on Friday when the Spartans’ offense, which is stacked with scorers, inexplicably shut down and couldn’t find the back of the net against Carpentaria.