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Falcons bring home CIF plaque

Soccer: Behind a stupendous defensive effort, CV boys win first-ever CIF crown against previously undefeated foe.

March 02, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

DOWNEY — With exactly half of the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team's 26 matches this season prior to Friday ending in shutouts staged by its defense, blanking opponents is just as often the norm for CV as anything else.

There was nothing run of the mill or ordinary, of course, about the Falcons' opponent Friday night — undefeated, nationally ranked powerhouse El Rancho — nor the CIF championship stage on which the teams met. The Falcons just made it seem that way.

A defensive effort that was nothing short of spectacular made first-half goals by Alex Berger and Eric Keshishian seem like a mountain of a lead, which the Dons spent the second half of the CIF Southern Section Division IV title game scrambling to scale only to be knocked down for good by Pavle Atanackovic's dagger in the 75th minute that accounted for the 3-0 final score.

"Easily our best game of the year," Falcons junior defender Matthew Bracht said. "Everyone gave it their all, we just came out and gave it 100%.

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"It feels great. It's the best feeling ever."

The win capped an unbeaten 21-0-6 season for Crescenta Valley, which captured its first-ever CIF title in boys' soccer and the first for the school since the boys' water polo team won a Division VI title in 2008. To sweeten the deal, the Falcons clinched against a top-ranked Dons team (26-1) that eliminated it from last year's playoffs, 3-1, in the quarterfinals and had lost just once in its last 34 matches — a 2-0 defeat to San Clemente in the opening round of last year's CIF Southern California Division I Regional Championships.

"That makes it extra special, I think, because it hurt last year to get knocked out by them," Crescenta Valley senior defender Matt Schmutzer said. "Then to have them win CIF, we felt that could have been us. But it feels good this year."

Despite the final score, much of the match was really a gem of a defensive battle between both squads. El Rancho effectively prevented the Falcons from getting the ball up top to their most potent weapon, Atanackovic, and the Falcons' seamless recovery and quick reflexes on defense neutralized the Dons' technical passing attack and fleet-footed playmaker Francisco Lara, who entered with 35 goals, but was held to just two benign shots.

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