By Alan der OHANNESSIAN
The Falcons soccer team blasted past Diamond Bar 3-2 in an overtime thriller, a tense rainy match advancing CV in the playoffs. From the moment they hit the field, the Falcons knew what they need to do and came out aggressive.
Midfielder Salar Hajimirsadeghi played a pass to forward Pavle Atanackovic inside the penalty box leaving only goalkeeper Michael Luzzi to beat, however the shot was offside.
Knowing the stress his players were under early on the CIF contest, Head Coach Kiel McClung offered support. “Take a deep breath, it’s going to come,” he urged his boys.
Good teamwork was seen between midfielder Lars Perry Hutson and Atanckovic when Atanckovic gave midfielder Jaehoon Jung a chance to score from inside the penalty box, however the ball was beyond his reach, and he couldn’t control it.
Despite strong attacking by the Falcons they couldn’t score.
Midfielder Hutson was left wide however his shot just outside the midfield ventured over the post. In a similar scenario, midfielder Michael Shahnazarians’s shot just outside the penalty box struck wide to the right side of the goalkeeper. On a free kick, midfielder Alex Berger’s shot struck wide to the right side of the goalkeeper as defender Andrew Reyes let the ball pass through his legs, an apparent ploy to distract the goalkeeper.
Though Diamond Bar didn’t perform well on the offensive end, the Brahmas capitalized on the opportunity when they got it and scored.
On a free kick, Diamond Bar’s midfielder Kris Salazar struck to the right side of Falcons’ goalkeeper Nick Ruiz. Ruiz incorrectly thought the ball was going to his right, however he quickly corrected his direction. Unfortunately he couldn’t control the ball and it slipped out of his hand.
Brahma Alex Perez’s free kick was punched out by Ruiz but midfielder Johnny Bortis got the rebound. His shot struck wide to the left side with Falcons defenders at both posts while Ruiz recovered from the ground.
The Falcons leveled the match two minutes before halftime as Shahnazarians’s free kick struck to the right side of the goalkeeper.
Despite the equalizer, McClung believed that his team was moving the ball without purpose and rushing the game.
In the second half, the Falcons got the lead only to let it go at the end of the match.
Berger played a cross pass to Atanackovic inside the penalty box. Atanackovic put it to the upper left of the goal keeper putting the Falcons ahead for time during the match.
But Diamond Bar was ready, tying it up just a few minutes before the end of regulation.
On a free kick similar to their first goal, Perez’s shot found forward Nick Rader who took it on the fly, however his shot was punched out by Ruiz who got the rebound and put it into the net for the late equalizer.
With the score leveled at two goals at the end of regulation, both teams headed into overtime.
CIF rules state that the first team to score in the extra time wins the match – a situation also known as “golden goal” or “sudden death.” If the match is still tied after the extra regulation time, penalty kicks decide the fate of the match.
But the Falcons found a way to finish on the upside.
On a corner kick, Berger’s “banana shot” swerved to the left side of the goalkeeper as the Falcons put the final nail in Diamond Bar’s coffin.
Coach Kiel McClung praised his team for coming back to win the match, saying that’s a sign of a true champion.
Reflecting on the match, his main concerns were the set pieces such as free kicks and corner kicks as Diamond Bar scored both of their goals from free kicks. He said he and the team will review their mistakes in that regard.
The Falcons next play on Wednesday as they await the winner of the La Mirada and Northern match. If Northern wins, a coin flip will decide if they play at Crescenta Valley. However if La Mirada wins, the Falcons will play there.