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Late header saves game for Spartans

Soccer: La Cañada boys tie South Pas, 2-2, with goal in 76th minute Tuesday.

February 07, 2012|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — It was the first varsity goal for Aidan Tourani of the La Can¿ada High boys' soccer team and did it ever come at the right time.

Down a goal with four minutes to go, the Spartans earned a corner kick and sent everyone — including the goalkeeper — up the field. Tourani got there first and headed the ball into the top left corner of the box, on a bounce, to notch the equalizer in a 2-2 tie with South Pasadena Tuesday.

“When I walked up to the box I felt a connection and I knew the corner was going to come to me,” said Tourani, a junior defender for La Cañada who got the goal off a pass from Armand Bagramyan. “I didn’t think it went in, but when I got up everybody was cheering and I was like, ‘No way.’”

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The tie keeps the Spartans (13-5-4, 6-0-3 in league) undefeated in the Rio Hondo League and on top of the league standings with one game left in the regular season with league-rival Monrovia (18-7-3, 6-1-2) Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

A La Cañada victory or draw at Monrovia Thursday will give the Spartans, ranked fifth in CIF Southern Section Division V, the league crown for the third year in a row and 22nd overall.

Both teams came in hungry for a win Tuesday at La Cañada, but both coaches were content with the result as the late goal saved La Can¿ada Coach Alex Harrison from a loss.

“Honestly, whatever keeps us alive in first right now,” Harrison said. “We didn’t play the way we should have — we weren’t aggressive or first to the ball enough — but in the overall scheme of this we needed that tie to keep going, otherwise we’re in trouble.”

South Pasadena Coach Juan Zurita was also pleased after seeing his team improve from its 4-2 loss to the Spartans at home on Jan. 18.

“They could’ve done better, but La Cañada also stepped up and brought some pressure,” Zurita said. “We came [out] a little different then we did in the first round. We came out and tried to be a little more aggressive and that’s how we got those two goals.”

It looked like the Tigers (10-3-4, 5-2-2) notched the game-winner as Steven Blackwell put South Pas in front, 2-1, in the 62nd minute off a corner kick from Zack Dunn.

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