El Rancho High School's quest for perfection fell at one of the last hurdles, courtesy of another unbeaten side.
Crescenta Valley scored goals four minutes apart in the first half, then defended gamely en route to a 3-0 upset of the top-seeded Dons, ending their 34-game unbeaten streak in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 boys soccer final at Warren High School in Downey.
Alex Berger and Erik Keshishian provided the halftime advantage for the Falcons (20-0-7), which won their first Southern Section boys championship and claimed a berth in next week's CIF Southern California Regional championships, which also include top teams from the Los Angeles City, San Diego and Central Sections.
El Rancho (26-1-0), from Pico Rivera, was the defending champion and top seed and was fifth in ESPNHS's Fab 50 national rankings. It came into the final averaging nearly four goals.
“We knew we were going to have to beat El Rancho from the beginning of the year,” Crescenta Valley goalkeeper Nick Ruiz told the Whittier Daily News. “We just knew we were going to have to take them down. Winning has not set in, and I don't think it will set in for a couple of days. It's amazing. We expected a hard-fought game, but not the way it ended.”
UC Irvine-bound Pavle Atanackovic added a late goal, his 39th this season and 99th of his prep career, in the closing minutes.
Crescenta Valley dominated the first half, taking advantage with goals in the 28th and 32nd minutes. Berger scored the first, a 40-yard blast that caromed down off the crossbar. The linesman ruled it crossed the goal line after the referee initially waved it off.
“As soon as I saw it hit the post, I looked over at the linesman and told him to move his flag,” Berger told the Los Angeles Daily News. “I knew it went in. It pumped everybody up. We knew we could beat them. … We score goals and don't allow them.”
Keshishian made it 2-0 four minutes later, flicking Erick Trejo's long throw-in with his back to the net.
In other CIF-SS finals Friday:
Valley View 1, Capistrano Valley 0: Alex Turkson's header three minutes into overtime lifted the Bulldogs to the boys Division 2 title at Warren.
Turkson nodded home Daniel Roman's corner kick to the far post as second-seeded Valley View (20-2-6), from Moreno Valley, claimed its second overtime victory in five playoff games, with another determined on penalties.
Capistrano Valley (11-13-4), from Mission Viejo, has lost in back-to-back D2 finals.
Goalkeeper Victor Silva was a hero for Valley View, diving to his left to save a Kevin Baboiyan penalty kick in the 60th minute.
St. Margaret's 1 (6), Hemet 1 (5): The Tartans (17-4-6) needed six rounds of penalty kicks to claim their second successive Division 6 girls title at Mission Viejo High School, clinching on Stanford-bound Katie Donahue's shot after Hemet's Kenzie Boyd fired at goalkeeper Elliot Schwartz on the sixth round of the shootout.
McKenna Marmelstein's header gave St. Margaret's, from San Juan Capistrano, a 21st-minute lead, but the top-seeded Bulldogs (23-2-3) pulled even in the 36th after Rosie Robinson won and then converted a penalty kick for her 27th goal this season.
It was St. Margaret's second win on penalties during the postseason.
In a CIF Los Angeles Section final Friday:
Arleta 3, Manual Arts 0: Genesis Cruz and Jocelyn Guel tallied two minutes apart at the end of the first half, and the Mustangs (14-4-4) won the school's first City girls championship in any sport, winning the second-tier Invitational title. Guel added a second goal in the 68th minute.
Manual Arts (9-4-4), which was seeded 11th, overcame higher seeds in the first three rounds of the playoffs, getting through the quarterfinals and semifinals on penalty kicks following scoreless draws.
Top-seeded Bell (23-4-2) won the third-place game in the Boys Large School Division, pulling out a 2-1 victory over Gardena's Narbonne (16-8-4) in the first game of the doubleheader. Fremont, from South Los Angeles, upset Bell in the semifinals and will face San Fernando in Saturday night's Large School title game.