LA CANADA — Wanted: Competitive playoff opponent for Division IV boys' soccer juggernaut. Must at least be partially able to hold off a striker with 39 goals and a goateed stopper who covers the entire field while leading a top-notch supporting cast. Interested parties please contact the Southern Section office, ASAP.
La Canada High Coach Lou Bilowitz and his undefeated team haven't begun placing classifieds yet, but it's getting close.
The Spartans blew a third consecutive postseason opponent off the field Thursday, trouncing San Andreas League champion Colton, 7-0, in a quarterfinal match. Striker Josh Henderson and midfielder Josh Sweeney each scored two goals while goateed stopper Gaston Haupert dominated play wherever he roamed.
Showing a willingness to shoot from anywhere, top-seeded La Canada sent its first eight shots beyond the goal, but missed only two of its next six and led, 4-0, at halftime.
The Spartans (23-0) not only controlled the match with their dribbling and passing, but consistently stole the ball from the harried Yellowjackets (22-5-2).
"They're among the top two or three teams I've ever faced," said 18-year Colton Coach Dave Gomez. "They're very strong physically and they work as a unit out there. They're always looking for the other 10 guys on their side."
A big part of Colton's problem stemmed from its having to play most of the match a man short.
After Nick Paneno scored La Canada's first goal 16 minutes into the match, Yellowjacket goalie Neil Avant was ejected in the 31st minute for obstructing Henderson in the penalty area. Backup goalie Jason Anderson came on to face a penalty kick that Sweeney fired under the crossbar and the rout was on.
"That was a big turning point," said Sweeney. "Their heads dropped, they got down on themselves and they got tired because they didn't have enough people to mark us all."
Bilowitz agreed, saying that La Canada's ball-control style made it even harder for Colton to compete after Avant's dismissal.
"We play with the ball on the ground and our players moving to open space," said Bilowitz, who won a Southern Section title with the Spartans in 1988-89. "That's hard enough to handle normally and with nine field players there was no physical way they could stay with us."
La Canada also got goals from Nick Andrus and Cameron Adams while goalie Matt Cardis picked up his 19th shutout without having to make a save.
"It's been like this all season," said Haupert, whose team has outscored opponents, 122-5, and is fast approaching the CIF season record of 129. "We're peaking at the right time and as the better teams come along we're going past them like all the others."