The La Cañada High School varsity boys’ soccer team has been taken to the limit twice the past two weeks and its wear showed at Mendota on Tuesday. The Spartans were unable to keep up with the No. 1-seeded Aztecs and fell, 4-0, in the first round of the CIF State Division V Southern California Regional.
“Our players were pretty worn down, mentally and physically,” said LCHS head coach Bruno Costa, whose squad played regulation, overtime periods and penalty kick shootouts in its last two contests. “There was a bit of reflection with the semifinal loss [against Los Olivos Dunn]. I had some trouble throughout the week to engage the players again.”
Mendota (23-4-2 overall record), which won the CIF Central Section Division 6 championship, jumped out to an early lead and never looked back with two scores from Daniel Trejo and goals from Yovani Tamayo and Reynaldo Murillo.
Despite the early exit from state competition, first-year head coach considers the season a success. He guided the Spartans (14-6-6 overall) to their first Rio Hondo League championship since 2013, and the team made a remarkable CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoff run defeating La Salle of Pasadena, Claremont Webb and La Puente Nogales. La Cañada’s postseason ended in semifinals, falling to Dunn, 4-1, in a penalty kick shootout.
“For me, the season was a great accomplishment, especially considering how short my time was with them,” Costa said. “We had about four weeks of training before our first game.”
La Cañada didn’t have a superstar on its team, but one wasn’t needed because of team’s leadership. Costa credited his senior group for its consistent play and hunger to win.
“They achieved a lot,” Costa said about his seniors. “For the first time, they won the Rio Hondo League. They hadn’t been able to win that, so they broke that curse. We also ended a [winless streak] against Monrovia. Those seniors played a key role. We had Sam [Adida] and Jack [Meeker] in the back, Luke Bonham in the middle and Armand [Manoukian] coming in and out of the wing. They not only brought quality to the team, but they also brought a bond and chemistry. They were a strong group with a strong connection.”
The seniors who played their final match as Spartans include captains Adida, Bonham and Meeker, Manoukian and Trevar Bambanian.