By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer
LA CAADA-FLINTRIDGE — It’s usually the La Caada High School boys soccer team that keeps teams on its heels.
Mountain View flipped the script on Tuesday.
The visiting Vikings, mounting constant pressure, made a set piece and attack down the wing count in a 2-0 victory in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.
Mountain View (13-4-5) lost the coin flip and will be on the road and face the Lakeside-Paso Robles winner.
La Caada (14-6-5) bows out of the playoffs in the second round for the third consecutive season. The Spartans’ season practically came in full circle. The teams previously tied 1-1 in the season opener. In that game, the Vikings also were dominant and finished with a 23-3 advantage in shots.
Mountain View wasn’t as dominant this time, but it came close.
The attack was constant throughout and it paid dividends in the 22nd minute when Ricardo Diaz connected on a header off Alan Miranda’s free kick. Diaz, who was unmarked, connected near the goal post and caught La Caada sophomore goalkeeper Graham Labran-Boyd out of position. By the time he turned to make a save attempt it was too late.
“Just mistakes and letting kids get unmarked,” first-year La Caada coach Alex Harrison said. “(Labran-Boyd) couldn’t turn in time to get to the play, but that’s youth as well.”
The Spartans built some momentum early in the second half, but it dissipated almost as quickly as they got it going after the Vikings’ Jesus Mariscal broke free. His shot was virtually uncontested from 18 yards and deflected off the goal past and into the net for a 2-0 lead in the 47th minute.
La Caada’s Armand Bagramyan, a junior forward with 23 goals and 15 assists, was kept in check. He faced a swarm of defenders whenever he took possession. The Spartans’ best chance came in the 46th minute after a free kick. But Garrett Apel’s shot attempt from 40 yards went just wide of the net. In the 76th minute, Bagramyan’s free kick sailed just over the cross bar.
“We knew who to mark,” Mountain View’s Carlos Zarate said. “We used that to defend their tactics. We knew (Bagramyan) was the most dangerous player on the field.”
Zarate and Mariscal proved to be constant threats from the wing, and their deft ball-handling tested Labran-Boyd. The young keeper got help from Joseph Kim, Aidan Tourani and Jonas Dehmel, all of whom helped clear shot attempts.
In short, the pressure was on.
“We kept a lot of possession,” Mountain View coach Felipe Corona said.
It was tough for La Caada to push forward without senior midfielder Zaki Khan and freshman forward Juan Carrasquero. Khan was limited to a few set pieces because of lingering ankle injuries and Carrasquero tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the first 10 minutes of a first-round match. With the Spartans’ experience, size and speed missing, the Vikings pounced by making constant substitutions.
“We gave away the middle of the field all day long,” Harrison said. “(Khan) is good at winning the ball and works for every loose ball. Not only that, he’s 180 pounds. If he can’t get the ball he slows you down with his body. He has size in there that we just don’t have.
“Mentally, they’re nervous. They have 35 guys on their roster and have guy after guy they can put in. It’s tough.”