Nitros primed for playoff push

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Not until the final whistle blows upon the Pacific League boys’ soccer season will one truly be able to assess whether or not Glendale High is playing its best at the most opportune time of the year.

For now, however, it is safe to say that the Nitros are doing everything in their power to get back to the CIF postseason.

Glendale won for the third time in its last four games on a rainy Tuesday afternoon at Moyse Field, thoroughly overwhelming visiting Arcadia, 4-1.

“They started playing much better once we got to [Crescenta Valley on Friday],” said Glendale Coach Tulio Marroquin, whose team defeated league front runner CV, 2-0, on Friday. “Now they’re carrying it on, they’re playing the full 80 minutes.”

With the victory, Glendale (14-8-2, 6-6-1 in league for 19 points) finds itself in fourth place.

It’s a spot in the league standings the Nitros cannot exceed, but are hoping to cling to, as it represents the last automatic playoff spot. Glendale currently leads fifth-place Pasadena (17 points) and sixth-place Burroughs (14 points). However, the latter two squads had their match against each other on Tuesday moved to Friday due to rain and still have matches against their rivals set for Thursday, when Glendale will face first-place Hoover.

“We definitely need the [Hoover] game to hopefully get into playoffs,” said Glendale’s Richard Anaya, who had a goal and an assist on Tuesday.

After a somewhat see-saw start, the Nitros took a 1-0 lead when Vahe Hokopyan emerged from a scrum in the center of the field and dished off a pass to Mercea Tala.

Tala turned and let loose on a line-drive shot from roughly 20 yards out for a score in the 13th minute.

Tala’s initial tally seemed to open up the Glendale offense and put the game in firm control of the Nitros against the Apaches (2-8-3).

“They calm down and they start to work and work,” said Marroquin of his team after it nets the first goal.

Anaya then struck on a marvelous shot in the 40th minute, just seconds before the whistle for halftime.

From just inside 45 yards out, he booted a kick that landed inside the far post for a 2-0 lead.

“The passing game was working for us and we were also trying to use that long ball as an advantage,” Anaya said.

In the second half, a Johnathan Martinez shot was saved only to have Joon Kim fly onto the scene to knock in the rebound for a 3-0 lead.

Emin Mirzakhani headed in a 4-0 lead later in the half off a free kick from Anaya.

In the opening half, Glendale goalie Osvaldo Florez stopped two shots, while James Mizuki had three second-half saves, including a spectacular diving stop on a point-blank shot.

From goalie to forward, offense and defense, Marroquin is happy with the performances he’s getting as of late.

“Everybody knows what they’re job is ultimately,” Marroquin said. “They’re doing their jobs, that makes it run well.”

And with everything still on the line — a possible Glendale playoff bid and a possible Hoover league title — Thursday’s showdown is clearly an intriguing match that Marroquin hopes will bring out the Nitros squad he’s seen playing over the last few games.

“I really don’t need to say much,” he said. “Once they know Hoover’s coming or we’re going there, it’s automatic.

“It’s not just playoffs for us and a possible league title for them, it’s also the rivalry, the bragging rights of Hoover-Glendale.”

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