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Chatsworth Overcomes Its Baggage, 3-1


RESEDA — What's a team to do when overtime looms and its best scorer is on the bench, a mangled paper bag stapled to his shirt?

Find a freshman and get him the ball.

That was the Chatsworth High boys' soccer team's formula for success Friday, as the visiting Chancellors used two goals by Abdulah Safdari to pin a 3-1 overtime loss on Sherman Oaks CES in a City Section second-round playoff game.

A freshman striker, Safdari was a replacement for Chatsworth star Mike Preis (26 goals), who sat out after being ejected from the Chancellors' first-round victory over North Hollywood.

Preis' contributions were limited to cheering and poor fashion judgment--he observed the team's shirt-and-tie game-day dress code by wearing a collared shirt with a wedge of decorated brown paper affixed to it.

On the field, Chatsworth (11-8-4) tied the Knights (10-1-2) in knots from the opening whistle but didn't pull away until late despite outshooting Sherman Oaks CES, 27-4. Chatsworth plays at Garfield in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

The 12th-seeded Chancellors took six corner kicks in the first 15 minutes and used their advantage in size, speed and skill to dominate the game. But it was Sherman Oaks CES, seeded a surprising fifth after blitzing the first-year Magnet Conference, that scored first.

In the 19th minute, Miguel Romero made a long run upfield and kicked the ball to the right side of the Chatsworth penalty area. Chatsworth goalkeeper Guy Klein and his defenders miscommunicated, allowing Mitchell Miranda to race in and score his seventh goal from 12 yards.

Chatsworth answered three minutes before halftime when Safdari took a long pass from Ely Rosa at the top of the Knights' penalty area and scored from 15 yards.

Safdari scored the game's decisive goal in the 86th minute. The rookie collected another pass from Rosa and paused 30 yards from the Sherman Oaks CES goal. Seeing no open teammates, Safdari instead lofted a shot over Knight goalkeeper Carlos Sibrian and into the net.

"The problem all game was that we aren't used to someone besides Mike stepping up; he does everything," Safdari said. "All week we practiced getting good first touches on the ball and opening the field up. But as soon as we started today we weren't doing any of it."

Chatsworth added its final goal in the 98th minute when Sibrian tried to punch away a high cross but knocked the ball into the chest of the Chancellors' Mario Garay, who then scored from close range.

First-year Sherman Oaks CES Coach Dan McDonnell rated Chatsworth, which played without injured starting defender Jose Castillo and with starting midfielder Jorge Rodriguez nursing an injured knee, as his team's toughest opponent.

"They were physically stronger than us and we were real tired by the end," said McDonnell, whose team was 0-16 last season as a member of the Valley Pac-8 Conference. "We had a great season and it's hard to take the first loss but we came further than anyone thought we would."

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