Marshall boys' soccer ends La Canada's season
Marshall Eagles score two goals in a six-minute span en route to 2-1 win over La Canada Spartans Friday night.
Marshall's Ben Cuevas scored the first goal for the Eagles in the 30th minute. (Photo by Libby Cline / February 15, 2013)
“The good thing today is we didn’t have to take a freeway to go to a playoff game,” said Marshall Coach Dino Barbiera, reflecting back on the long drive the Eagles have taken for playoff games in past years. “It was so nice to come here today and stay around the valley.”
The short drive back home was an even more enjoyable one for Marshall after it took advantage of two La Cañada defensive lapses in the final 10 minutes of the first half for a 2-1 victory Friday.
It made the short walk back to the locker room a long one for a fourth-seeded Spartans squad that spent most of the year atop the division rankings.
“The saying in soccer is, ‘A two-goal lead is the most dangerous,’” said Barbiera, whose team didn’t give up a goal until the 80th minute on a penalty kick. “We decided to drop back a little bit, change our formation a little bit and make adjustments [in the second half]. They came together strong, were disciplined and finished the game the way I wanted.”
La Cañada (18-3-3) had what would have been a No. 1 seed slip away late in the year when it tied South Pasadena, 0-0, Feb. 7 after falling to them, 2-1, earlier in the year, forcing a share of the Rio Hondo League title.
“It’s just soccer, that’s the way it plays out,” La Cañada Coach Alex Harrison said.
Marshall (17-4) did all of its scoring in a six-minute span, thanks to a pair of breakdowns on La Cañada’s back line.
Jaime DePaz played a part in both goals. The Eagles senior striker set up a Ben Cuevas goal in the 30th minute on a free kick from about 40 yards out. DePaz boomed the kick that bounced at the top of the Spartans’ box and through their back four to an unmarked Cuevas, who knocked in the goal.
DePaz cushioned the lead six minutes later when he took a throw-in pass from midfield and sprinted down the right side of the field into La Cañada’s box and fired a shot that bounced off the near post and crossed the goal line.
“Honestly, I thought we played really well in the first half,” Harrison said. “Two mistakes and they just capitalized on two mistakes. I thought we played better, but what are you going to do?”
DePaz said he felt a little guilty beating Harrison, his old club coach.
“It’s hard playing against people you know because you’re friends and you don’t want to crush their dreams,” DePaz said.
Despite dominating in shot attempts (17-8) and corner kicks (9-2), the Spartans had trouble creating any quality chances. Only five of La Cañada’s shots were on goal with most being saved easily by Michael Quintero.
La Cañada began desperately pushing for a goal over the final 15 minutes. The Spartans’ Lawrence Ku took a through pass from Armaan Zare in the 69th minute and cracked a far-post shot that was off the mark.
Armand Bagramyan took a La Cañada free kick from a dangerous position with two minutes to play in the regulation. The senior striker’s shot bounced off the ground with several players running to get a foot on the ball, but no one could as Quintero made a diving save.
With the game pretty much in hand, Bagramyan got the Spartans on the board in the 80th minute when he converted a penalty kick earned by Ku.
Despite the late goal, La Cañada’s new single-season scoring leader — with 43 goals this year — was held in check.
“I didn’t think I could do it at first,” said Marshall defender Sam Doctorian, who guarded Bagramyan in the game. “He’s really quick and he’s fast; it was hard. … It was help from my teammates, as well. When he burned me, they were always there to help me.”
Marshall will next play the winner of Friday’s Pomona-Yucca Valley on Wednesday with a scheduled start time of 5 p.m.
“We get through CIF every year as a wild card, and for once we’re getting through a regular CIF game,” DePaz said. “To win the first game, not against some wild card or bottom-of-the-barrel team, is great. It gives us a lot of confidence.”