LA CRESCENTA -- Loyola High got the better of the Crescenta Valley boys' soccer team on Tuesday, but it didn't exactly get the Falcons' best.
The battle of two highly-ranked CIF Southern Section heavyweights looked appetizing on paper, but lacked substance in the flesh — weary flesh in the case of the Falcons, who didn't seem to have much in the tank for their 10th match in less than two weeks and fifth in the last six days.
"I think so," Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark said when asked if the grind had finally caught up with his players, who lost to the Cubs, 2-0, on Tuesday. "We had guys that would normally start that didn't start today because of legs and soreness and nicks and bruises. When you play that many games in that many days it catches up to you and that's my responsibility. It's the first time I've ever put a schedule together and that's something that I'll take from this year so the next year I don't make the same mistakes."
It was the first loss of the season for the Falcons (8-1-1), who are ranked No. 1 in Division III, and just the team's second loss under Clark, who took over prior to the 2011-12 season and led the Falcons on an undefeated run to the Division IV title before the season ended in a loss in the finals of the CIF Regional tournament. Tuesday's defeat also snapped a streak of 43 straight regular-season matches without a loss going back to 2010-11.
Loyola, ranked third in Division I, broke the scoreless tie in the 55th minute when Adam Eaton, who had just had a shot on goal saved by Falcons goalkeeper Josh Cook a minute earlier, got an even better look in close from just inside the right post on a ball played from the left corner and found the angle to beat Eaton.
All of the Cubs' scoring damage was concentrated into a period of less than three minutes, as Eaton assisted on the next goal, playing a ball up to Lucas Hodges, who beat Cook to the ball and sneaked one into the back of the net in the 57th minute.
The Falcons would get a couple of chances to rebut, including Pablo Hernandez' straight shot from 30 yards with a little over 10 minutes to go that was stopped by the goalkeeper and a long free kick from Justin Wright that was also blocked with less than nine to play.
"I felt like in the second half we played a good game," said Clark, whose team captured the Ralph Brandt Tournament title with a 1-0 win over Birmingham on Monday night. "They got a couple counter-attacks and made us pay, but we just didn't have that energy we would normally have or the focus that we would normally have in a game. They're a good team and you can't make mistakes like that against a good team."
Crescenta Valley had minimal chances in the first half, which it began with starters Matt Ryan, Erick Trejo, Rani Dimashki and Wright, all on the bench, although its only two attempts, by Trejo and Eric Keshishian, were on frame. Loyola on the other hand took seven shots, with three on goal, but couldn't cash in.
The Falcons' next match is not until Dec. 27.
"They're going to get the rest of the week off and get in the ice bath and take care of those injuries," Clark said. "Monday we'll get back at it and fix some things and the kids are going to learn a lot from this experience."