The Man In The Middle

Creativity and attention to detail are part of Gor Grigoryan’s plan of action. It’s a strategy that Grigoryan doesn’t stray from during a match while patrolling the midfield for the Crescenta Valley High boys’ soccer team.

“It’s the job of the midfielder, and if you don’t have that, then you are not a midfielder,” said Grigoryan, a senior. “Being a midfielder is like being the brain or the engine, and your vision has to always be real sharp.”

A sharp mind and the ability to visualize nearly every possible situation on the field have gone hand in hand for Grigoryan and the Falcons, who are attempting to win the program’s first Pacific League championship and make a second consecutive appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs.

There are other indicators that Grigoryan admits have helped him turn in a successful performance following an 80-minute contest.

“Without the other 10 players on the field, you aren’t going to be creative,” said Grigoryan, who has recorded eight goals and seven assists for 23 points through Friday. “You have to be able to go out there and make your own forwards and your defenders happy.”

With Grigoryan paving the way, the Falcons (9-7-2 and 8-3-1 in league) have found ways to pick up come-from-behind victories in the closing moments of contests.

The Falcons chose to go in a new direction after they advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season. They hired Kiel McClung as their new coach and altered the team’s method of attack by having Grigoryan more involved in the midfield.

“We have a good group of attacking players,” said McClung, who was the boys’ coach at Lancaster High last season after serving the 2007-08 season as an assistant at Alemany. “When I came in, I had been told briefly about certain players and that we would have a good one in Gor.

“Those are the kind of players that you want around. In a big-time situation, you want to be able to get the ball to him. He can then either make a good pass or put the ball in the back of the net.”

The Falcons have responded to McClung. Though Crescenta Valley struggled during the start of the season, it began to sparkle when league competition began just before Christmas. Grigoryan and the Falcons have continued to elevate their level of play.

They keenly developed a knack for late-match heroics.

Grigoryan, who has scored seven goals in league action, didn’t waste any time picking up his play. He scored the winning goal with three minutes left to give the Falcons a league-opening 1-0 win against defending co-league champion Burroughs on Dec. 16.

Grigoryan then tallied another match-winning goal with about seven minutes remaining to help Crescenta Valley post a 4-3 league home victory against rival Glendale on Jan. 13.

He also had the winning assist on a goal by Raimond Baghoomian with eight minutes left to give the Falcons a 3-2 come-from-behind win against host Muir on Jan. 29.

Those are several examples tracing the Falcons’ climb to the top of the league standings.

“He’s played an important role in being the attacking midfielder,” McClung said. “You usually put your most creative player in that position.

“He’s being asked to dribble, shoot and pass. He can control the flow of a game. If the pace is too fast or its a kick-ball type of game, then we’ll ask him to take control of the ball. He’s been more than advertised.”

Crescenta Valley senior centerback Josh Kim said the Falcons have been able to turn to Grigoryan during the most challenging times in a match.

“There are not many players like him out there,” Kim said. “He’s been able to draw so much attention and he’s been good at creating scoring chances.

“He’s been ready to play every single game. If we are down a goal late, then we know we can trust Gor to get us a tying goal.”

Grigoryan said it’s about seizing the right moment to make a difference during the heat of a battle.

“It comes down to picking the right times,” Grigoryan said. “This team has had the drive and will until the very last second in a game.

“Your teammates are the ones who make you a better all-around player. You want to be out there to help them win, and you don’t want that to stop.”

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