"At first, I panicked because I thought it did go in," Paulson said. "I turned my head as fast as I could and I saw it didn't go in and I was ecstatic."
The Spartans (22-6) controlled the CIF Southern Section Division III quarterfinal playoff game the rest of the way, pulling out the 9-7 victory at Pasadena City College.
"Defensively, I thought we played very strong," La Cañada Coach Steve Neville said. "Seven goals against a very good team is pretty good. That's right around where we want to be."
La Cañada went on a 4-2 run in the final seven minutes and thirty seconds of the game, as the Spartans' Trevor Roszkos scored in the final 18 seconds of the third, giving his team a 6-5 edge going into the fourth quarter.
"I knew I had to come prepared because it's been our goal all season to at least make the semis," said Roszkos, who had a game-high five goals. "I just had to step up and do it for our guys."
The Wolverines (20-11) tied the game back up at 6 when Andy Santala scored on a five-meter shot with 4:24 to go in the game. Roszkos delivered again, netting his own five-meter shot 20 seconds later for a 7-6 lead. Aliso Niguel leveled the score at 7 when Cory Stock buried a deep shot with 3:48 to go.
La Cañada drew a man-advantage on its next possession and Alden Geller made it count with a goal for a 8-7 lead. Aliso Niguel drew a six-on-five opportunity on its ensuing possession, but came up short when Paulson blocked a shot from Santala, who had a team-high four goals (three coming on five-meter shots).
"We really didn't have an answer for him early on," Neville said. "He was pretty much one-handedly beating us."