Despite loss, team finishes season with furthest advance in CIF play.
By Alan DER OHANNESSIAN
The Falcons’ soccer season and run for the CIF title ended on Friday when they lost 3-1 to El Rancho in the quarterfinal match.
Though they came from behind several times during the season, this time a win wasn’t to be had.
El Rancho controlled the tempo of the match from the start.
Offensively, El Rancho players were faster; their passes and positioning were sharper helping to ensure the victory. Midfielder Cristian Roldan played a lob inside the penalty box right on the spot to forward Francisco Lara leaving only Nick Ruiz for the net, however it was called offside.
Minutes later El Rancho’s teamwork was rewarded with its first goal.
Good ball movement between midfielder Johnny Molina and Lara gave a scoring opportunity for midfielder Erik Argueta. His shot struck to the right side of Ruiz. Though Ruiz dove in the right direction, the ball slipped underneath his arms.
El Rancho’s second goal came through a defensive error.
Forward Alejandro Haro played a lob from the left side of the field into the penalty box aimed to Roldan. Falcons defensive player Chris Fierro tried to thwart the pass, however his shot sliced through the ball swerving it back into the net for his own goal. Teammate Timmy Campbell tried to comfort Fierro who was devastated by the mistake.
Though El Rancho gained the win, the team could have scored more if they had been more accurate in their shots. Lara played a pass intended for Argueta but it was intercepted by the Falcons defense. However, midfielder Roldan got the ball out of the scramble whose shot struck into Ruiz’s hands.
Finally, Roldan was left wide open but his shot 20 yards from the field struck wide to the right side of Ruiz.
Additionally, El Rancho’s stifling defense gave Falcons a hard time. They closed the gaps, disrupting the Falcons ball movement and had a tight grip on Pavle Atanackovic, Falcons scorer.
Midfielder Alex Berger played a lob to Atanackovic inside the penalty box. However, he was rewarded with a weak header as Atanackovic was guarded by two El Rancho defenders.
Adding insult to injury, there was a lack of communication between the players.
A throw-in by defender Fierro caught Berger by surprise as Fierro didn’t give any indication that he would throw in his direction. This led CV Coach Kiel McClung to urge his players to communicate to clarify situations.
Things got worse when captain Salar Hajimirsadeghi was sent off for a hard tackle. McClung was so furious that he complained to the referee until he got an explanation.
In response, McClung changed the formation into a more offensive one (3-4-2), putting four players in the midfield and three forwards as a way to compensate for the loss.
This helped the Falcons to get on the board.
Berger played a lob from the left field to Atanackovic who directed it on the fly with his right foot to the left side of the goalkeeper despite being out of position as they went into halftime down by a goal.
In the second half, the Falcons defense again was on its heels.
Lara played a lob into the penalty box that was punched out by Ruiz, however Roldan got the rebound and shot but it was blocked as defender Matt Schmutzer tackled to prevent an obvious goal.
On another possession, Haro played a lob to Lara who controlled the ball in the air for an aerial shot; his body was tilted to the side as his shot struck wide to the left side.
The Falcons got only one opportunity for a goal.
On a free kick, Berger tried to trick the goalkeeper. Instead of playing a lob, he played into the upper left side of the net but it ventured over the post.
El Rancho put the icing on the cake as they scored their third goal with minutes remaining for the end of the match.
Argueta dribbled past two Falcon defenders on the left side of the field and his diagonal shot struck to the left side of Ruiz.
McClung said he was proud of his players, having won back-to-back Pacific League titles and reaching to the quarterfinals, the farthest for the Falcons in the program’s history.
In his somber voice he also acknowledged the superiority of the opposition, commenting that El Rancho is a very tactical team and had opened gaps in the Falcons defense.
El Rancho next plays the winner of Ganesha and Cathedral high schools.