PASADENA — Aris Yeghiazaryan couldn't have faced a more difficult set of circumstances Wednesday afternoon. Not that the Glendale High boys' soccer goalkeeper minded.
For starters, Yeghiazaryan didn't appear until the beginning of the second half in a big Pacific League contest against host Muir. Then, he made his biggest save of the season.
Yeghiazaryan stopped a penalty shot with 10 minutes remaining to preserve Glendale's 1-0 victory.
Glendale (4-0-5, 2-0-3 in league for nine points) bested a Muir team that entered the contest in first place. The Mustangs dropped to 4-3-1, 3-1-1 in league for 10 points.
Yeghiazaryan, a sophomore, couldn't have picked a better time to play the role of hero for the Nitros. Moments after Levon Sargsyan gave the Nitros a 1-0 lead, Muir's Victor Lugo was tripped in the goal box, resulting in a penalty shot.
Yeghiazaryan said he studied Lugo's demeanor seconds before Lugo's shot. Yeghiazaryan dove to his right and foiled Lugo's bid to deadlock the match.
"He looked at me to my right, but I knew he would go and shoot the other way," said Yeghiazaryan, who replaced starting goalkeeper James Mizuki. "My heart was pounding and it feels great to make the save and get a big win like this.
"I knew when I came in for the second half that I had to be ready. I thought I would have to make a big save or two."
Yeghiazaryan finished with four saves.
Glendale third-year Coach Tulio Marroquin said Yeghiazaryan appeared relaxed prior to turning back Lugo's shot.
"He came up big and I'm not surprised," Marroquin said. "He's always prepared, so I knew that he had a good chance at stopping that shot.
"It was just a matter of guessing right. He's a very good goalie. We spend a lot of time at practice with our goalies stopping penalty shots."
Sargsyan, a senior forward, broke the deadlock in the 66th minute. Sargsyan, a reigning All-Area honoree, pounced on a rebound given up by Muir goalkeeper Peter Tapia and hit the back of the empty net.
Sargsyan leads the Nitros with 14 goals.
"Levon has been big of late for us," said Marroquin, whose team will face Muir at home Feb. 4. "He had some chances earlier and he was finally able to put it away."
Glendale will next compete in a league match at 3:30 p.m. Friday against Crescenta Valley, which captured the league title last season. The Falcons earned a 3-1 league win against Pasadena on Wednesday to improve to 5-2-4, 3-0-2 in league for 11 points. Crescenta Valley moved into first place in league, one point ahead of Muir.
Marroquin said the Falcons will pose another stern test for the Nitros.
"It will be yet another big game," Marroquin said. "It will be that way for us and them, and we have to take care of business."