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Falcons fall one short

One-goal loss is first of CV's dream season, as Falcons lose regional final to Paramount.

March 10, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

DOWNEY — With the heart and soul of its offense all but muted and its rock solid defense undermined by a pair of penalty-box slip-ups, the finals of the CIF Southern California Division I Regional Championships at Warren High in Downey on Saturday proved to be an uncharacteristic end to a program-defining season for the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team.

Sixth-seeded Paramount had the right defensive game plan, and just enough offense, to deny the fifth-seeded Falcons in their bid to complete an unbeaten season and become the first team in area history to win both a CIF sectional and regional title in the same season, as the Pirates jumped out early and survived a late rally to win, 2-1, and claim their second regional crown in the last three years.

"When we came out in the second half, we never thought the game was over, especially when we got that goal that made it 2-1," said Falcons senior midfielder Salar Hajimirsadeghi, whose goal on a free kick with seven minutes left gave CIF Southern Section Division IV-champion Crescenta Valley its first signs of life in the game and sparked a furious finish that came up just short. "We were motivated and we were attacking and attacking. …I feel like if we had a few more minutes we could probably have put the ball in the net."

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A few more minutes at the end might have changed the Falcons' fortunes, but the first 73 minutes of the match saw Crescenta Valley (23-1-6), which entered ranked sixth in the country by ESPN High School and maxpreps.com and third in the state by maxpreps.com, while garnering the No. 2 spot in the state from ESPN HS, struggle mightily to gain any headway against the Pirates' physical, disciplined play.

With a stellar defensive effort keyed by midfielder Miguel Rueda, who also scored the game-winner, and defenders Jesus Alvarez and Tommy Osorio, Paramount did what few, if any, teams have managed this season in taking Falcons senior forward Pavle Atanackovic out of the game.

"Our game plan was first of all to stop the middle," said Pirates co-Coach Rafa Villasenor, whose team, which won the Division III sectional crown and is ranked 18th in the country and fourth in the state by ESPN HS, kept the dynamic striker bracketed at all times and surrounded by dark jerseys every time he did receive the ball. "If [Atanackovic] doesn't receive any balls, he pretty much is invisible in the game and that's what we pretty much did."

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