CV loses to Paramount for regional title, but it doesn’t take away from the team’s memorable season.
By Brandon HENSLEY
It was the last match of the season for the Falcons boys’ soccer team, regardless of the outcome. The team made it as far as it possible could, tearing through the Pacific League, exacting revenge on El Rancho in the playoffs, winning the program’s first Southern Section Division IV title and advancing all the way to the Southern California Division 1, Regional championship game.
So even though CV players and coaches walked off the field at Warren High School Saturday night losers of a 2-1 match to the Paramount Pirates, there wasn’t any feeling of regret or a sense of failure in the air.
It was a new feeling to be sure for the Falcons. They had not lost one match all season. They entered the contest 23-0-6. They were ranked sixth in the nation and third in the state according to maxpreps.com. They had scored 85 goals while their suffocating defense had only given up 18.
But on Saturday, Paramount was a little more physical and a little quicker to the ball. In short, they were a little better, and CV will have to settle for runner-up. (According to CIF officials, there is no match against the SoCal winner and the NorCal winner because some NorCal teams play their seasons at different times.)
A late flurry by CV couldn’t save them this time, unlike when goalkeeper Nick Ruiz scored a goal in the final minutes in the Division IV quarterfinal match against Salesian in February.
Down 2-0 in the second half, midfielder Salar Hajimirsadeghi scored on a free kick to cut the Falcons’ deficit in half in the 74th minute. CV had several other close chances to score, including a corner kick by midfielder Alex Berger that was almost put it, but it was not to be.
“We said from the beginning to make a deep run in the playoffs you’ve got to be able to get a good bounce here and there,” said CV Coach Grant Clark, in his first year guiding the program. “Right there in one of the last corner kicks we had a chance for somebody … and it just didn’t work out this time, and it’s unfortunate. We sure would have liked to see the game go into overtime.”
CV forward Pavle Atanackovic was asked if the outcome would have been different if his team had just a little more time on the clock.
“Yeah at least a couple more minutes, it could’ve been a different score,” he said.
Atanackovic, CV’s best scorer all season, was bottled up most of the evening. Clark noted how aggressive defenseman Jesus Alvarez played him the whole match.
“Every time we got the ball toward Pavle they had that big No.4 (Alvarez). He played him very well.”
It was Alvarez who scored first for Paramount. In the 31st minute of the first half, he headed home a corner kick by Jose Ochoa. The Pirates struck again quickly. With seven minutes left in the first, Miguel Rueda scored on a loose ball in front of the CV net. It was 2-0, and CV fans were stunned, until Hajimirsadeghi started the late comeback.
“They are a quick and very skilled team and those are combinations that other teams haven’t been able to put together against us,” Clark said. “We’ve seen skilled and we’ve seen quick, but we haven’t seen skilled and quick. Not like that.”
Were the Falcons frustrated?
“Not that there was frustration,” Atanackovic said. “It’s just that they were playing quicker than us and I think we gave up too many balls. But no excuses, they did a great job.”
Paramount (24-4-4) came into the match no stranger to big games. This is their second regional championship in three years, and they won their third straight Southern Section Division III title earlier this month.
After the match, CV Principal Michele Doll stood at midfield and hugged each player as they were announced over the sound system, a congratulations on a season that goes down as one of the best in CV sports history.
“To make CIF Finals, that was our top goal, and going this far is just unbelievable,” Atanackovic said. “Win or lose we should be satisfied with the result.”