LA CRESCENTA — No matter what
After capturing the Division IV title last season — the program's first in its history — Crescenta Valley was moved up to Division III and entered its season-opening match Tuesday afternoon against Mayfair as the top-ranked team in the division's preseason poll.
New-look Crescenta Valley created its own breaks as sophomore Justin Wright scored a pair of second-half goals off deflections to lead the host Falcons to a 2-1 nonleague victory.
"I'll take them any way I can," Wright said. "You take the shot and just hope they go in.
"There are some big shoes to fill here and I feel like it's my responsibility to lead team and score some goals."
The Falcons lost several key players to graduation, including Pavle Atanackovic and Alex Berger. In stepped Wright, who was called up late in the regular season last year and tasted the success on the Falcons' title run that also included an appearance in the CIF Southern California Regional Championships Division I championship match.
Wright broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 76th minute when his shot ricocheted off a Mayfair defender and past goalkeeper Chris Van Putten.
He knotted the game at 1 in the 52nd minute when he took a shot that bounced off a Mayfair defender.
Second-year Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark said the Falcons need to count on Wright to shoulder some of the offensive responsibilities.
"Justin showed how good he can be and he's got some great potential," said Clark, the reigning All-Area Coach of the Year. "He's got very good skill and technique.
"In the first half, I thought we were off a little. We had some opportunities in the first half, but couldn't finish them. You've got to have some bounces go your way, and we got them in the second half. We stepped it up in the second half. It's a good first step."
Mayfair (0-1) took a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute on a goal by Esteban Franco. Franco raced upfield and lofted a 20-yard shot that beat goalkeeper Josh Cook.
Crescenta Valley finished with seven shots on goal, compared to three by Mayfair, which finished second in the Suburban League behind Artesia last season.
Crescenta Valley senior midfielder Erick Trejo, a reigning All-Area first-team honoree, said the Falcons' standards remain high.
"They have to be high," Trejo said. "We wanted to start off and get that first win and make sure we have a lot of confidence.
"We stepped up to the challenge against a good team like Mayfair."
Crescenta Valley's Eric Keshishian had two quality scoring chances in the first half. Van Putten made a diving save in the 19th minute on a 10-yard shot by Keshishian, who then lined a shot just over the crossbar with about 20 seconds left in the first half.
The Falcons played without defender Matthew Bracht, a reigning All-Area pick, who was ill.