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Opponent's frustration benefits Spartans, 4-0

Boys' soccer: Physical play doesn't derail La Cañada in league win against Blair.

January 26, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

It's easy to see why teams would get frustrated playing against the La Cañada High boys' soccer team. The Spartans are a high-octane team that continually keeps possession and is constantly on the attack.

La Cañada's game against Blair High on Friday was a perfect example of this. The Vikings were carded five times and John Munoz, a Blair midfielder, received two yellow cards, which earned him a red card and an ejection after he shoved a Spartan player with 27 minutes left in the second half.

"Truth is, it's a good thing for us when the other team is frustrated because they're going to keep doing what they're doing and trying to get cheap tackles," La Cañada forward Brian Blumenfeld said. "We just have to play to our rhythm and play the way we know how, despite how the other team comes out."

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La Cañada kept its composure and walked off the field with a 4-0 Rio Hondo League victory.

The win came without the services of Matt Canatta or Aram Bagramyan, who were both on college recruiting trips. Both players will return for the team's next game against Temple City.

Blair was understandably frustrated as the Spartans' lead increased. The Vikings (0-8-1, 0-5-1 in league) had one shot on goal the entire game. That shot came in extra time in the second half off a free-kick.

Despite the result, La Cañada (17-0-2) Coach Barry Ritson still wasn't pleased after seeing his team put 20 shots on goal.

"The group isn't at the level where it needs to be, and I've said that for two or three weeks now," Ritson said. "The boys are careless in the final third. We can't be a team that gets 25 opportunities at goal and scores four goals. We need to be a team that every time we get an opportunity, we make you pay for it."

Friday's game could have been much more one-sided if it hadn't been for Blair goalie Fabian Hernandez, who finished the game with 16 saves.

"We had four goals today, but we could have had about six more," said Blumenfeld, echoing Ritson's comments about the Spartan's need for better play in the final third.

Blumenfeld kicked off the scoring 24 minutes into the game. Arash Mahboubi played a ball in to Blumenfeld at the top of box. He ran with the ball for a moment before firing it across his body with his left foot and into the bottom-right corner of the net. Hernandez was caught off-guard and didn't react until the ball was already past him.

Six minutes later, Blumenfeld picked up an assist on a corner kick. He kicked the ball in, all the way through the air and right onto Cameron Meeker's foot. Meeker just punched it in to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead.

Danny Thompson and Armand Bagramyan each finished the game with goals of their own.

"I thought [Blumenfeld] was very good today. Can he be better? Absolutely, he's one of the top three players in this league right now," Ritson said.

Blumenfeld said it feels good to be on a team that can still win big when it isn't playing its best.

"It's a plus. We have a lot of weapons, so if one or two guys aren't playing well, someone else can step up and take care of business," he said.

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