The Spartans' game-winning goal started innocuously enough when a long ball from Lancers junior midfielder Patrick Sullivan was sent wide to senior halfback Ethan Anabel just outside the crease.
As Anabel hustled to keep the ball inbounds, Spartans sophomore defender Joseph Kim stole possession and led a quick counter-attack.
Kim forwarded the ball to midfield to sophomore Filip Franke, who sent a pass toward senior striker Jeff Becker, who seemed out of position.
Yet, Becker ran downfield and may have caused a distraction, as Lancers goalie Garrett Kubon and a defender bumped as Kubon was about to boot the ball out of play.
In the aftermath, with a defender down and Kubon out of the goal area, the loose ball landed right in front of Becker, who fired a left-footed shot from 20 yards to give La Cañada (7-4-1) a 1-0 lead.
"I think the keeper hesitated for just a second, so I touched it into him and their defender hit him and then I just finished it," Becker said.
The Spartans' goal appeared matched by Lancers senior midfielder Andrew Powers in the 74th minute when Powers batted a deflected corner kick into the upper portion of the net and past Spartans keeper Graham Labran-Boyd (five saves).
Yet, neither official acknowledged the goal and the loose ball was batted away by a Spartans defender.
"In the short term, I think it was unfair," La Salle Coach Dan Sheridan said. "I think our goalkeeper was fouled on our goal and even La Cañada players admitted [Power's shot] crossed the line.
"But, that being said, in the long term, referees generally in high school are not the best. So, I tell them all the time in practice, bad calls happen all the time."
Powers' shot was the 10th of 11 total for La Salle (7-2-2), which was denied in the 77th minute when Labran-Boyd batted away a shot by Anabel from five yards out.
The Lancers outshot the Spartans, 5-1, in a first half that ended scoreless.
La Salle had a few solid looks, maybe the best coming in the 16th minute when senior midfielder Sam Zanetta stole possession away from a Spartans defender just inside the 18 and drove to the net.
Zanetta proceeded about eight yards before firing a shot that Labran-Boyd trapped and ultimately batted out of play off the lower right post.
La Cañada's lone good look came in the 20th minute on a through pass from senior halfback Carlos Ruano that split two defenders and found senior striker Garrett Apel.
The forward one-timed a spiraling shot that was wide of the goal by about four yards.