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Armaan Zare leads La Canada soccer back

La Canada Spartans score four straight goals, three coming from its junior captain, en route to 4-1 Rio Hondo League win at Blair.

January 30, 2013|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

PASADENA — Carlos Linares of the Blair High boys' soccer team found himself in the right place at the right time in the second minute of a Rio Hondo League game with La Canada High Wednesday.

It led to a quick Vikings goal and lead, but that was short-lived thanks to the Spartans' Armaan Zare. The junior midfielder found himself in perfect position three times Wednesday and all three led to goals in a 4-1 La Cañada victory.

“I don't get too excited when I score goals, but I guess it was a good day,” said Zare, one of four La Cañada captains. “It's my first hat trick ever, but I have to keep a level head.”

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It wasn't just a good day for Zare, as the Spartans rallied from a deficit – something they weren't able to do in a 2-1 loss to South Pasadena Friday – to defeat Blair on the road.

“It woke us up, focused us really good,” La Cañada Coach Alex Harrison said of Blair's early goal. “After giving up a goal that early, it's great to have a response like that. I felt like we had that killer instinct today that we need every game. We need to learn how to do that.”

The victory keeps the Spartans (16-3-1, 6-1 in league) right in the thick of the hunt for a league title. The Tigers (12-1-1, 5-0-1) led in the standings with 16 points coming into Wednesday and a road game with fourth-place Monrovia (2-2-2 in league).

Anything other than a Tigers victory would put La Cañada, which is ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division V, back in the driver's seat with three league games remaining against Temple City on Friday, San Marino on Tuesday and South Pasadena next Thursday.

Blair opened the scoring almost immediately Wednesday when a La Cañada center back attempted to head a ball away from danger at the top of his team's goal box. The ball rolled off the side of his head and bounced into the box. Linares charged to the loose ball and directed it into the low right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead in the second minute.

Vikings Coach Henry Cabral said the quick start was great for his team, but it couldn't match the goal with focus on the defensive end.

“It was a good thing, we just weren't disciplined like we needed to be,” said Cabral, whose team fell to 6-5-5, 3-3-1 in league. “They were able to capitalize on our undisciplined play and it was an ugly first half for us.”

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