PASADENA — Throughout the majority of the season, perhaps the issue that plagued the Pasadena Poly boys' soccer team most was a lack of scoring.
Goals weren’t the issue for the host Panthers on Friday afternoon — well at least home goals, that is.
“We tried some different things early on and weren’t successful,” Poly Coach Doug Jolly said. “We made some adjustments after and just came up short.”
While the Gauls (8-1 overall, 1-1 in league) and reigning co-league champion Panthers (6-7-1, 1-1) combined for five goals in the first half, perhaps the most important score was the only of the second half, which was delivered by Webb.
The Gauls were awarded a direct kick just outside the 18 in the 58th minute as they held a 3-2 advantage.
Despite a Panthers wall set up directly in front of Gauls midfielder James Romero, the halfback banked on some misdirection from teammate Daniel Crisostomo, who faked taking the shot.
After the fake, Romero rocketed a laser from 20 yards around Poly’s wall that tucked into the left corner of the net and put the visitors up, 4-2.
“The set pieces killed us today. We just can’t give up those goals,” Poly junior striker Ali Kamal said. “We have to get better at that.”
Kamal nearly evened the game two minutes earlier when the forward peppered a right-to-left free kick from 25 yards that required a last-second diving save from Gauls goalie Ian Harbison.
After Romero’s goal, the Panthers struggled to create scoring chances, with their best chance of cutting the deficit coming in the 70th minute on another free kick from Kamal that just sailed over the crossbar.
“I really think the difference in this game was just Webb converting their attempts and us just missing,” Jolly said. “I’m proud of how we came back in the first half. We just had a quick goal.”
Webb led, 2-0, within the first 15 minutes as the visitors punched in goals from Justin Chandrasehkar, who was assisted by Crisostomo, and from Crisostomo, who was fed by Keith Franks.
Kamal drove home Poly’s first goal and his seventh of the season when he took possession of a loose ball deep in Gaul’s territory and adroitly split two defenders before ripping a 10-yard goal past Harbison in the 18th minute.
Webb pushed its advantage back to two goals in the 25th minute with its first score off a set piece.
A direct kick from Romero deflected off Poly’s wall, which was scooped up by Chandrasehkar, who was in a one-on-one position with Poly goalie Brian Ward.
While Ward made a one-handed punch save of a shot from Chandrasehkar, the deflected save bounced to wide open teammate Cole Albert, who scored from point-blank range.
Down, 3-1, Poly’s last goal came again thanks to the nifty footwork of Kamal, who broke down two defenders near the Gauls goal and was slide-tackled to the ground by Chason Bridges in the 34th minute.
Even though Bridges wasn’t carded, Kamal was awarded a penalty kick, which was taken and made by Ben Hubsch a minute later.