Pasadena Soccer Exhibits Gritty Effort to Upend Streaking Marshall

Pasadena’s David Almanza (No. 12) celebrates his “Gol Olimpico” with teammates as the Bulldogs hand the Marshall Eagles their first loss of the season.
–Photo by Aaron Valdez / Beacon Media News

By Aaron Valdez

It was an epiphanic afternoon for Pasadena boys’ soccer as the Bulldogs delivered their best performance thus far, grounding the once-undefeated Marshall Eagles 4-0 on Tuesday.

“I think we played a very nice game today and we were able to absorb a bit of the pressure at the beginning because (Marshall) played really well the first 20 minutes,” said 27-year Pasadena Coach Cherif Zein. “We have a good team this year and we’re still missing four starters that will be cleared by January so you could imagine.”

Coming into the game, the Bulldogs donned a middle-of-the-road 3-3-1 record and had not managed to find their footing yet. Marshall, on the other hand, was flying high as the Eagles were riding a 10-game win streak to open the season.

However, everything seemed to change Tuesday afternoon as Marshall was shockingly dealt its first loss. And who better to do it than neighboring school Pasadena, which is located just one mile down Mountain Street.

In the early stages of this fast-paced affair, the Eagles’ up-tempo offense and constant pressure kept the Bulldogs on their toes. It was evident Marshall was in control but Pasadena’s hard-nosed defense made it difficult for the Eagles to finish their chances in the final third.

Thanks to its defense, Pasadena was able to take advantage in transition, which Marshall ultimately had no answers for. The first goal came when David Almanza scored straight from a corner kick as his cross curled over the Marshall keeper and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Bulldog lead.

This goal immediately opened the playing field for Pasadena while also killing all of Marshall’s momentum.

The Bulldogs continued to showcase their lethalness in the attacking third as their next three goals either came from a set piece or off a cross inside the box. Sophomore captain Andres Cervantes was the mastermind behind Pasadena’s offensive schemes, creating plays while recording three assists for the likes of wingers Osmar Rojas and Christian Reyes.

Pasadena experienced no troubles closing out its fourth and biggest win of the season, which is something Zein feels the team can continue to build on.

“It’s going to be great,” Zein said. “We play a key game against Burroughs on Thursday, which is the top of our league so if we do have a good result, it’ll be a good start to our second run in league, which will start back up in January.”

December 19, 2018

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Aaron Valdez

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