NEWPORT BEACH — While the position may have been familiar for the Glendale High boys’ soccer team, the Nitros’ opponent was certainly different, as was the final score.
For a second straight postseason contest, Glendale trailed early in allowing a second-minute score.
This time, however, there was no playoff magic or rally, as host Corona del Mar ended the Nitros’ season via 3-0 victory in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs on Thursday afternoon.
With the victory, the Pacific Coast League champion Sea Kings (15-3-4) advance to the divisional second round on Tuesday to face Anaheim or Kennedy.
As for Glendale, the Pacific League fourth-place entry capped a 1-1 postseason run with a 10-11-2 overall record.
“I don’t know if we had the confidence to play today and it looked like we had trouble concentrating,” Nitros senior midfielder Narbeh Shabani said. “We gave up another goal in the first two minutes and we didn’t play Corona del Mar well, especially against their long ball.”
Glendale earned a berth to Thursday’s first round after pulling out a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory at Vista Murrieta (8-10-6) in Tuesday’s wild-card round.
In that contest, the Nitros fell behind 1-0 after two minutes, just as they did Thursday thanks to some hustle from Sea Kings senior striker James Kim.
Corona del Mar blitzed Glendale with four shots through the first two minutes, three coming on one possession that started with a blast from Sea Kings forward John O’Connor that diving Nitros goalie Ervin Vartoomian batted away.
The swatted ball bounced to Sea Kings senior Kyle Martin, who was also denied by a pouncing Vartoomian from close range.
Unfortunately for Glendale, the Nitros didn’t clear the ball out of the penalty area and an opportunistic Kim calmly tapped in a four-footer for the game-winner.
“We were a little fatigued from that overtime game, but that’s still no excuse,” Glendale Coach Artur Aghasyan said. “We lacked focus and concentration and unfortunately we didn’t play our game until after we gave up a goal.”
Corona del Mar outshot Glendale, 22-7, but the Nitros remained in the contest because of the exploits of Vartoomian, who finished with eight saves.
Vartoomian denied Corona del Mar’s Cameron Davis on a spinning reverse shot from 12 yards in the 39th minute to keep the score at 1-0 heading into halftime.
Vartoomian also twice denied Kim on solid attempts in the 67th and 78th minutes and showed sound anticipation when he stole possession from Kim in the 51st minute while the forward was dribbling 20 yards from goal on a one-on-one opportunity.
Yet, the shot differential finally caught up with Glendale late.
After Kim was stoned in the 78th minute, the striker was pulled down in the box on a rebound try, which resulted in a penalty kick.
On this solo attempt versus Vartoomian, Kim didn’t miss, shooting to the right of a left-guessing goalie on the penalty kick that put the home team up, 2-0.
“I don’t think that was a good call,” Vartoomian said of the penalty. “[Kim] already had his shot on goal and missed. The refs didn’t need to give him another chance.”
Three minutes into extra time, Corona del Mar capped the contest on a wicked 35-yard free kick from O’Connor that curled into the top left of the net past a diving Vartoomian.
“We didn’t do enough on defense,” Vartoomian said. “Corona was pushing into our zone the whole game. We needed to get them out and we didn’t.”
While Glendale had possession for a good portion of the contest, the Nitros struggled to generate good chances.
Maybe the best look came when junior forward Avo Haroutunyan rocketed a 15-yard try that forced a diving save in the 10th minute.
Nitros junior Berj Ghazarian also peppered a 35-yard direct kick in the 35th minute that just missed.
The final score capped a frustrating afternoon for Glendale, which showed up at the wrong field on campus and wondered around trying find the correct pitch, while Corona del Mar players were preparing on the other side of the school.
“So much for a welcome, they didn’t help at all,” Aghasyan said Corona del Mar. “We didn’t have a bench set up for us, the nets were down and we were trying to find out what was going on an hour before the game while they’re practicing.
“I didn’t like that at all, but what can you do? We didn’t lose because of that and we’ll get over this come back strong next year.”