Spartans off their game in loss

LA CAÑADA — Breakaways came early and often for the La Cañada High boys' soccer team in its 33rd La Cañada Holiday Classic Tournament opener Tuesday against Roosevelt.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, the majority of those opportunities were followed by the referee raising his hand to signal an offside call. On the other side of the ball, two La Cañada mistakes deep in its own end led to goals and a 2-1 win for Roosevelt.

"I just expect more," La Cañada Coach Alex Harrison said. "I told the boys we beat ourselves. We made the mistakes and they capitalized on them and that was it. It's unfortunate."

A crucial La Cañada error tied the game at 1 as the Spartans (5-3-1) committed a turnover deep in their own end on a back pass. The Spartans' goalie ran out to grab the ball but the Rough Riders' Eduardo Calzada got to it first.

Calzada controlled the ball in the left corner of the box and kept it away from the keeper before sending a ball across the face of the open net. A Spartans defender attempted to clear the ball at the goal line, but it went off the side of his foot and into the net for an own goal, tying the score at 1 in the 55th minute after La Cañada's Armand Bagramyan scored 10 minutes earlier.

Another La Cañada giveaway deep in its own end led to another goal, as Roosevelt's Leonel Cruz took the ball and chipped a pass across the pitch to a streaking Calzada who knocked it in for an easy goal and 2-1 lead with seven minutes left on the clock.

The loss eliminates almost all hope La Cañada had of winning its own tournament with the big showdown coming between Milikan and Roosevelt (4-4) today at 1 p.m. The Spartans were short-handed Tuesday with just 12 players available with five players, including three starters, out of town and forward Marc Kaesler out with a sprained wrist he suffered in the team’s alumni game Friday.

La Cañada had a great scoring opportunity nine minutes into the game when the Spartans' Nick Pereira sent a through ball to Bagramyan on a breakaway. Coming down the left side of the box, Bagramyan sent a shot past Roosevelt's diving goalkeeper but just on the wrong side of the right post and out of play to keep the game scoreless.

The rest of the Spartans' chances in the half were voided by offside calls, as they had about eight offside calls in the contest.

"[The offsides] just took away our opportunities to score and get into the attacking zone," Harrison said. "It put more pressure on our defense."

La Cañada still managed to get on the board first when Pereira flicked a pass to Bagramyan nine minutes into the second half. Bagramyan outmuscled a Roosevelt defender for the ball and fired a shot off the Rough Riders' goalie and into the net for a 1-0 La Cañada lead.

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