By Christian Romo
Down 2-1 late in the second half, the Wildcats were heading towards their first home loss of the season. But a late goal relieved the pressure, salvaging their undefeated home record and league season.
Behind a goal and an assist from junior Keenan Mckelvey (15), the Monrovia Wildcats (8-1-3) drew with the La Cañada Spartans (4-4-4), 2-2, Friday afternoon in Monrovia.
Mckelvey’s interception off a failed clearance in La Cañada’s box set up sophomore Gordan Shepard’s (14) game-tying goal in the 76th minute. “It was a great relief, the fact that we didn’t lose. This one is a good thing,” said Mckelvey.
Monrovia scored first in the 19th minute when senior Jonathan Goettling (9) found Mckelvey open on the right wing. Mckelvey was falling away from the goal, but still managed to score on a rope across his body. “I just saw the keeper stepping out, I saw the back post open, so I tried to put it in,” he said.
The Spartans responded with two straight goals, the first off an Armen Eyssakhanian (20) free kick that found senior defenseman Sam Adida (5) near the left post, and the second off an Adida penalty kick two minutes before halftime.
“I would say they had a fantastic first half,” said Spartans first-year coach Bruno Costa, “the mental aspect, they were fully invested, and I was very happy with them.”
Adida made the most noise on the field, catalyzing long passes from the back and scoring two goals, but was also sent off in the 80th minute after receiving his second yellow card for bumping Wildcat goalkeeper Edward Yousseff (24). Yousseff was given a yellow card in the first half after a hard tackle inside the box, forcing him out of the game for the rest of the half, and giving the Spartans the lead on the ensuing penalty kick.
Monrovia coach Mike Williams was pleased with his team’s passing through the midfield and progressive attack. “I think we were a little flat in the beginning up forward, but we worked through that as the game progressed.” Mckelvey also praised his team’s performance, but was disappointed with the result: “We put a lot of effort in today. But at the end, it’s still a tie.”
The Wildcats were supposed to host the Spartans next Wednesday, but a conflict in the basketball schedule forced the league to reschedule the matchup, making Monrovia play La Cañada and South Pasadena back-to-back. “The two toughest teams we’re playing in the same week,” said Williams. “We had a tough game against South Pas, and we turn around and have to have a tough game against La Cañada. It’s a lot.”
Despite giving up a late goal and forcing a tie, Costa believes his team could compete for a league title with the Wildcats. “My prediction is they’re going to be contenders as well,” he said, “but we are going to compete for league. We are contenders for sure.” Williams believes his team is good enough for a league title as well, but cautions against coasting through the final eight games. “Anybody can stumble in any stupid game,” he said.