When the dust had finally settled atMonroviaHigh Schoolthe Wildcat soccer team sat in heartbroken disbelief as their large crowd emptied the stadium. On the other side, La Cañada Boys soccer rejoiced their league title with fans and family. Making the situation even better, the sentiment of rejoice was the exact opposite only minutes earlier.
La Cañada entered the game one point ahead ofMonroviain league needing a win or a tie to clinch league. But, ifMonroviawon the game, there would be no co-champ consolation. It would be lonely second place and heartbreak for La Cañada.
That heartbreak seemed likely early on too when in the first half LC goalie Graham Labran-Boyd was pulled out of the goal and Monrovia sent a shot careening towards the top corner. La Cañada defender Austin Gartside valiantly jumped up and punched the ball away, but in doing so was given a red card, causing the Spartans to play a man down the rest of the game.Monroviaconverted the subsequent penalty kick, making the score 1-0, and then seemed to put the icing on the cake still in the first half when another penalty kick conversion made the score 2-0.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the dejected Spartan team that left the field came back angry and inspired in the second half. Junior forward Armand Bagramyan revived hope when he took a pass from Jeff Becker at the 50 yard line and proceeded to burn the Wildcat defense for 30 yards before launching a left footed 20-yard shot to the top corner making the score 2-1.
Minutes later, Marc Kaesler drew a penalty kick for the Spartans which Bagramyan converted on tying the game and completing a phenomenal comeback.
All seemed lost again though, when a prolonged stoppage time allowedMonroviato take numerous corner kicks and a free kick. The Wildcats finally managed to put the ball in the back of the net on the last one, a goal that seemingly won the league title. The Wildcats celebrated, the crowd went wild and the Spartans stood stunned.
Dejection turned into anger one final time though, as time essentially expired, senior forward Jeff Becker split theMonroviadefense and laid the ball off to senior captain Zaki Khan. After receiving a pass back from Khan, Becker won league for the Spartans when he put the ball into the back of the net while getting fouled.
Becker’s goal now gives new coach Alex Harrison a league championship in his first season and a home CIF game for the Spartans.
“To overcome a two goal deficit at halftime, with only ten men, and to comeback and tie the game to win league is absolutely amazing,” saidHarrisonafter the game. “It is that never say die attitude that will make you successful in everything you do in life and our team learned that today.”