By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
PASADENA – In one of the more dominating performances of the season, the Pasadena High School boys soccer team kept its Pacific League record unblemished behind unparalleled speed and a relentless push up front.
Raymundo Alcalaz and Elmis Villata each scored a goal in the Bulldogs’ 2-1 win over Arcadia on Wednesday afternoon to keep Pasadena in first place and hand the Apaches their first loss in league this season.
Pasadena (6-2-2, 3-0-1) proved to be too much for Arcadia (4-2-1, 2-1-1) in what was the Apaches’ first game in which they faced a lineup with depth and playmakers throughout.
“They outmanned us,” Arcadia coach Paul Miles said. “They were more physical and it just seemed like we were outplayed.”
Outmanned and outmuscled is exactly what described Pasadena’s first goal in the 17th minute.
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Arcadia’s corner kick was quickly cleared before the Bulldogs’ counter attack. Villata took an outlet pass off the clear and raced down the wing before finding Andy Rodriguez in space. He faked a shot attempt before slipping the ball past his defender to an open Alcalaz, who hit the back of the net.
“It was a good combination,” Pasadena coach Cherif Zein said. “We did outnumber them on the counter.”
Arcadia wouldn’t come away emptyhanded on its next set-piece. Anthony Rivera connected on a header off Johnathan Trein’s corner kick in the 27th minute to tie the game at 1-1 after the Bulldogs had some miscommunicationbetween keeper Jimmy Castillo and his defenders.
Pasadena’s frantic attack from start to finish created a slew of opportunities for the Bulldogs, and at the center of it was junior forward Smail Belhamra, who dribbled around defenders with ease.
“He does create a lot of space so people respect him because he’s so technical with the ball,” Zein said. “He’s just at another level.”
Belhamra and Arcadia defender Steven Burstyn were a good matchup on the right wing as Burstyn proved physical on isolation, making it tough on penetration. Still, Pasadena found other ways to get around.
Alcalaz raced down the Arcadia bench on the near wing and waltzed around two defenders inside the box before finding Villata open in the second half. Villata, without hesitation, hit a blistering shot inside the far post to give Pasadena a 2-1 lead in the 45th minute.
“We should have had a lot more goals because we had more chances,” Zein said. “We came in the field 19 or 20 times inside their area of danger and we didn’t finish. We have to work on our finishing.”