By Alan DER OHANNESSIAN
The Falcons cruised past Arcadia 3-0 on Thursday, Feb. 10 in the last match of the season securing their place as Pacific League champions as they enter CIF play. Having won their last eight games and beating Arcadia 4-0 on Jan. 18, the Falcons looked confident heading into the match.
However it was Arcadia (2-11-3 overall, 1-6-1 league) that came out aggressive.
Midfielder Anthony Riviera played a cross pass to forward Diego Gonzalez in the penalty box. He took the ball on the fly, however his shot was kept out by Falcons goalkeeper Nick Ruiz as he dived to his left for a corner kick.
On the next possession, Apache Andres Diaz got the ball out of a scramble; however his shot struck wide to the right of Ruiz.
The Apaches kept attacking but to no avail.
Falcons’ keeper Ruiz was at the ready as midfielder Wilton Quintero’s shot was saved. Gonzalez got the rebound as Ruiz couldn’t get a grip on the ball; unfortunately the shot was blocked by the Falcons defense. Coach McClung instructed his team to “Step up,” urging the team to improve their performance and get themselves on the offensive end.
Despite the slow start, the Falcons capitalized on two attacking opportunities.
Midfielder Jaehoon Jung played a cross pass to forward Pavle Atanackovic in the penalty box. Atanackovic managed to control the ball and put it past two defenders guarding him, however his shot was saved by Apache goalkeeper Adam Heacock as he dived to his right for a corner kick.
Also, on a free kick Alex Berger played a lob to defender Andrew Reyes whose header ventured over the post.
In the second half both teams were equally focused.
Midfielder Berger set up a pass for Michael Schanazarians whose shot ventured over the post.
On another possession, good team work was found between midfielder Timmy Campbell and Berger as they set up a scoring opportunity for Reyes, however his shot struck wide to the right of substitute goalkeeper Andrew Chin.
On the other end, the Apaches were equally offensive.
Gonzalez’s shot struck wide to the upper left of Ruiz as defender Matt Schmutzer was tightly guarding him.
Later, Gonzalez stole the ball from Schmutzer, but his shot struck wide to the upper left of Ruiz.
Eventually the Falcons were able to break the deadlock scoring three goals in a row within a span of just a few minutes.
Berger got the ball out of a scramble after a corner kick and put it past Arcadia for their first goal within the penalty box.
Minutes later, the Falcons scored again as Jung played cross pass to forward Ray Abghary who put it past the goalkeeper to his left for a two goal lead.
The third goal came when Atanackovic shot past two defenders into the upper middle for a commanding three goal lead.
After the match, the whole team gathered together and threw a “Gatorade bath” for Coach Kiel McClung in celebration of their second Pacific League title in a row. The team continued its celebration by forming a circle and chanting, “campeones,” Spanish for champions.
Coach McClung said Arcadia had lapses at the end that resulted in their loss.
“Arcadia played us tough for 75 minutes but they had mental letdowns at the end of the game,” he said adding that the defense played a big difference as they have allowed only 13 goals in 14 matches.
The Falcons enter playoffs Friday at 3:00 at home.