GLENDALE — Glendale’s High’s boys’ soccer team got off to the quickest of starts.
Unfortunately for the Nitros, visiting Crescenta Valley matched that quick start and, as Glendale Coach Arthur Aghasyan put it, “some simple mistakes” loomed large for Glendale, most notably an own goal that provided the winning margin for the Falcons in their 3-2 Pacific League win on Tuesday afternoon at Moyse Field over the Nitros.
Leading the way for Crescenta Valley was a returning starter and a reserve keeper, as goalie Adan Martinez made seven saves and Matt Ryan scored two goals and was largely responsible for the own goal in his first game back after a hamstring injury.
“It feels great. Last week I was so bummed I had to miss two games,” said Ryan, who had a strained hamstring. “I had no excuses. I had to perform well, the team had to perform well.”
With the win, Crescenta Valley (17-3-2, 6-2 in league) stayed in shouting distance of first place, trailing Pasadena by two points and Burroughs by four. Glendale dropped to 10-6-2, 4-3-1 and remains in fourth place.
“That’s a great team and in any other league, they’re not in fourth place,” said Falcons Coach Grant Clark, whose squad is ranked eighth in CIF Southern Section Division III.
Glendale scored just 38 seconds into the match, but Crescenta Valley roared right back during a first half in which the teams combined for five scores in the first 28 minutes.
“After [our first goal, the Falcons] they had two simple runs and scored two,” Aghasyan said. “We made simple mistakes.”
A cross from Fernando Martinez was cashed in by Menua Nazarian in the first minute for a 1-0 Glendale lead and a subsequent shock to the system for the Falcons.
“When one of those early goals happens, your first thought is just, ‘Really?’” Ryan said. “You just have to realize you’ve got time, you’ve got a whole ‘nother 79 minutes to play.”
It didn’t take that long for the Falcons to recover, as Daniel Eng assisted Ryan in the seventh minute to equalize the match.
Three minutes later, a Chris Sinani cross in the box deflected off a Glendale defender and right back to Ryan, who blasted in a shot from 10 yards out to take a 2-1 advantage.
Undeterred, Glendale marched back downfield and scored in the 17th minute, when Armen Hovhannisyan lofted a cross over the goalmouth to Levon Petrosyan, who promptly delivered the ball low inside the far post for a 2-2 score.
Eleven minutes later, the scoring concluded in almost anticlimactic fashion, as Ryan crossed a ball to the far post that was inadvertently deflected in for the final tally.
Crescenta Valley had a sustained opportunity in the second half that started with a Tony Royer free kick just outside the goalbox that deflected off a Glendale player and just over the crossbar. It led to two subsequent corner kicks, but the chances were averted by the Nitros.
Glendale, which won the shots battle, 11-5, didn’t go away, though.
The Nitros won the possession battle in the second half, largely due to their physicality and hustle, led by the exploits of Berj Ghazarian.
“[Ghazarian] really tried to take over the game. He out muscled us off the ball regularly and that’s concerning,” Clark said.
But the Nitros’ passing attack often came up short in the attacking third or Martinez came up big.
“Give Adan credit for having some big saves late in the game,” Clark said.
Perhaps the greatest example was when Glendale’s Avetis Haroutunyan broke through and let loose on a dangerous low show from inside 10 yards that Martinez stretched out to get a hand on. The save wasn’t secured, but Eng was able to kick it away.
Late in the game, Narbeh Shabani split a pair of Falcons defenders with a pass to Menua Nazarian, who had a step and lined a rising shot that Martinez had to leap to punch over the net.
“I liked the game, everybody’s playing well,” Aghasyan said. “CV is also a good team, that’s why it’s hard.
“We’re getting better. Whatever happens, happens; we’re not gonna put our heads down, we’re just gonna move forward.”
While Glendale moves forward, so too will Crescenta Valley after coming back.
“I don’t think we did a very good job of mentally preparing ourselves to step off the bus and step onto the field,” Clark said. “But give our boys credit for stepping up and equalizing right away and going ahead.”
And holding on.
“When you get down to the bottom line, it was 0-0 in the second half,” Clark said, “and we got the win.”