PASADENA - A 29th-minute goal and some clutch defense late were enough Wednesday afternoon for the Marshall Fundamental boys' soccer team, as the Eagles held off an onslaught of shots from visiting Pomona in a 1-0 victory in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs at Muir High.
With the triumph, the Alpha League runner-up Eagles (18-4), the Pasadena area's final boys' playoff soccer team, earned advancement to Friday's divisional quarterfinal at Santa Ana Godinez (14-2-4), champion of the Orange Coast League.
Despite being outshot, 6-1, by the 25th minute, Marshall proved opportunistic in scoring the match's lone goal four minutes later.
Eagles sophomore striker Alex Palma led the attack from the wings and passed inside the 18 to teammate Ben Cuevas, who crossed toward senior striker Jaime De Paz, who was about seven yards from goal.
Cuevas' pass actually hit off the back of a Red Devils defender and bounced to Paz, who one-timed a goal past junior goalie Cesar Nunez.
"To be honest, I wasn't even expecting the ball, I didn't see it coming," De Paz said. "If it wasn't for Benny Cuevas, we don't even score that goal."
The score turned out to haunt the three-time defending Valle Vista League champion Red Devils (13-5-3), who played catch-up the rest of the afternoon.
Despite three solid saves from Eagles goalie Michael Quintero in the second half, it could be argued that Marshall's backline was the match's most valuable unit.
Pomona was within inches of tying in the 65th minute when halfback Oliver Carrillo chipped a corner kick past Quintero.
Fortunately for Marshall, Eagles junior defender Ivan Pacheco was in perfect position to clear the ball out of danger.
"I was just in the right place. I'm the tallest guy on the team and it's my job to head or clear out anything that's going to go in," Pacheco said. "That's what I did."
Similarly, the Red Devils were denied the equalizer in the 75th minute when sophomore fullback David Mielke headed out a shot from sharp-shooting junior Juan Gutierrez that would have otherwise scored.
"I have total confidence in Michael Quintero, but I also know the guys around him are going to help out too," Barbiera said.
Gutierrez' 75th minute shot was one of 10 taken by Pomona over the final 20 minutes.
The Red Devils also missed on a shot from Gutierrez in the 50th minute that hit off the crossbar and in the 59th minute on shot by Cesar Ortiz that was thwarted on a tough diving save from Quintero.
Overall, the Red Devils outshot Marshall, 14-5, in the second and 21-9 for the match, but were still held scoreless.
The match's offensive fireworks also included some extracurricular activity as the action was stopped in the 75th minute as the head official warned the crowd to clean up its language after an inappropriate chant from the stands.
A Pomona player also kicked Marshall's ball out of the stadium after the final whistle blew.