SOUTH PASADENA — The difference between victor and victim may have simply come down to offsides traps in Wednesday afternoon's Rio Hondo League boys' soccer contest at South Pasadena High.
The host Tigers tried to slow La Cañada with an aggressive offsides trap that instead led to a big hole via two second-half goals and an eventual triumph for the Spartans, 4-2.
"We've been out-hustled in the last couple of games and didn't want that to happen again," Spartans Coach Alex Harrison said. "Basically, today we won because of our passing and discipline."
Junior striker Armand Bagramyan proved the catalyst for La Cañada (10-5-2 overall, 3-0-1 in league), as he tallied a goal and two assists.
After South Pasadena' goalie Christopher Mejia (six saves) denied Bagramyan on a penalty kick in the 55th minute, the junior bounced back and scored the game-winner in the 63rd minute off a pass from senior Jeff Becker as the Tigers' defense attempted an unsuccessful trap.
Four minutes later, the Spartans concluded their scoring when Bagramyan crossed to senior teammate Carlos Ruano in the goal area and Ruano scored from 10 yards to the disappointment of South Pasadena Coach Juan Zurita.
"We gave up two goals, and I don't like to blame the referees, but there was one where he doesn't know what is offsides," Zurita said. "That's tough to run an offsides trap like that and not get a call. It's tough enough to get your kids to play correctly."
South Pasadena (6-3-3, 1-2-1) tallied the match's final score in the 73rd minute on a free kick from Mathewos Grebrekristos.
While both teams combined for two total shots through the first 20 minutes, the final 20 minutes of the first half proved wild.
The Spartans took a 2-1 lead into the half thanks to a sensational goal from freshman forward Juan Carrasquero in the 39th minute.
The striker took possession of a pass near the home touchline about 45 yards from goal.
Carrasquero dribbled parallel to the Tigers' bench before firing a 30-yard right-to-left shot that curled into the far left part of the net for a score.
The goal marked a reversal of fortune for the Tigers, who just missed taking the lead in the 36th minute when a 10-yard shot from senior forward Steven Blackwell skipped off the inner post and right to Spartans keeper Graham Labran-Boyd (six saves).
The near goal stopped a nine-minute surge from the Tigers, who attempted three shots after tying the match in the 25th minute on a goal from sophomore Heven Gomez.
The equalizing score started when Blackwell crossed a pass from the left wing into the top right portion of the penalty area to streaking senior Raymond Yonami, who fired a shot off the arm of Graham Labran-Boyd.
Yomani's shot, while slowed down by Labran-Boyd, fell right to Gomez, who banged in the score.
The goal countered La Cañada's opening score in the 21st minute, when senior midfielder Zaki Khan connected on a header from 10 yards off a corner kick from Bagramyan.
"The thing we learned from early in league is that we have to play hard all the time," Bagramyan said. "When we do that, we're tough to beat."