NEWHALL — Sameen Islam knew exactly where to go when he saw teammate Tony Royer out wide to his left in the second golden goal period of Crescenta Valley High's Hart Soccer Showcase championship match against host Hart.
Inside the six-yard box, Islam took a step, lowered his head and, as he described it, waited for Royer's cross to hit him.
“Tony is someone everybody looks up to,” Islam said. “When he's going down the wing I thought he would go far post. I took a step back, he went toward the line and I knew where to be. It just hit my head – it was all Tony.”
Islam's goal came with 5:07 remaining in the second golden goal extra time period — after nearly 95 minutes of action.
And for nearly 20 minutes of that time, the Falcons were forced to play a man down after Augustine Ahn was sent off for his second yellow card of the game after an airborne collision near midfield.
His first card came on a controversial slide tackle where Ahn appeared to cleanly make contact with the ball.
“It's a lot of judgment calls that sometimes go for you and sometimes against us,” Crescenta Valley third-year Coach Grant Clark said.
From that point, though, the Falcons did little to resemble a team down a man.
Crescenta Valley (11-1-2) continued to attack, creating scoring chances late in regulation and in extra time.
“We have some very resilient and tough kids,” Clark said. “We go down a kid and we never dropped much.”
For all the fireworks of Islam's goal, the play of the day may have been made on defense.
Early in the first extra period, Hart's Christopher Marton took a shot from inside the box to the left side of the net, with Crescenta Valley goalkeeper Chris Mardiroussian out of the play.
But just as it looked like the Indians were poised to win the title, Falcons midfielder Cedric Abad took the ball off his chest, played it to his feet and cleared the ball.
“That's a drill we do in practice, toss to the chest, hit with laces,” Clark said. “It's funny, because sometimes people will do it half way and this is where you can say, ‘This is where that drill comes in.'”
The Falcons got on the board first, after a frustrating first half that saw them send two balls off the left post and one just over the cross bar to end the first with the score tied at 0-0.
With just over 30 minutes left in the second half, Kevin Ginosian found Eric Hartoonian in the box for the 1-0 lead.
The Indians (6-2-2) responded immediately, as Tad Hawthorne caught up to a long ball over the top and beat Mardiroussian with a strong second effort to net the score at 1-1.
“It gives us a balance in the game, now we're not behind and more comfortable,” said Hart Coach Adonay Jovel of equalizing quickly. “But a little fatigue in the last minutes.
“They were able to control the fatigue and some of our players couldn't handle playing 95 minutes of soccer.”
Fatigue or not, the Falcons mustered enough energy for one more goal and, as a result, head home tournament champions.