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Falcons set to hit CIF road

Soccer: Crescenta Valley to meet host Salesian in quarterfinal match today.

February 22, 2012|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com

The Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team has shown it can win playoff home matches. Now, the Falcons will look to prove the same thing on the road.

Third-seeded Crescenta Valley (18-0-6) will find out today how they will fare away from home for the first time when they make the 15-mile trek to Salesian (12-3-3) for a CIF Southern Section Division IV quarterfinal match. The contest will begin at 3 p.m.

"It's always tough to win on the road, but we think we can because we did it last year," said Crescenta Valley senior forward Pavle Atanackovic, the reigning All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year who scored the winning goal with about 14 minutes left to help Crescenta Valley pick up a 1-0 victory against Diamond Bar on Tuesday. "We had a tough game [Tuesday] and now we only have one day of rest before going back out there."

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Crescenta Valley, which won the Pacific League championship for the third straight season, will look to advance to the semifinals for the first time in the program's history. Crescenta Valley reached the quarterfinals last season after posting a 1-0 second-round road win against North Torrance before falling to El Rancho, 3-1, at home.

Things don't figure to get any easier for the Falcons, who will put their 23-match unbeaten streak on the line against a Salesian squad that captured the Santa Fe League championship before posting a pair of one-goal playoff victories against Norwalk (1-0) and Sierra Vista (3-2).

Although Atanackovic doesn't have a great deal of knowledge about Salesian's style of play, he's familiar with several of its players.

"I know three guys on their team and I'm pretty sure they have a good team," said Atanackovic, who has scored a school-record 37 goals, including all four playoff goals for the Falcons. "I believe they play more of a possession game."

Crescenta Valley first-year Coach Grant Clark said he entertained the idea that the teams would meet in the playoffs.

"We figured it would happen," Clark said. "They are a really good team and have historically made deep runs into the playoffs.

"They are a soccer school. Watching them on film, they are big, physical, technical and move the ball very well. We have to stay patient on defense and we have to get in front and stay in front of them.

"In order to win CIF, you have to go on the road and win at some point."

The winner will face second-seeded Artesia or Oak Hills in a semifinal match Tuesday. The other quarterfinal matches today will pit top-seeded El Rancho against South Torrance and fourth-seeded Cathedral against Santa Monica.

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