LA CRESCENTA — With its fourth straight victory on Friday afternoon, Crescenta Valley High's girls' soccer team ran its unbeaten streak to seven consecutive matches and collected its fifth shutout in a row.
At first look, one would likely assert that the Falcons are rolling right along, but Crescenta Valley first-year Coach Jorden Schulz has hardly been happy with her team's performances during a string of matches that have come, for the most part, against the bottom half of Pacific League competition.
Friday's decisive 5-0 win over visiting Glendale at Crescenta Valley High might have been different, though.
"I think we're breaking out of our slump," said Schulz, whose Falcons improved to 6-3-3 and 4-0-2 in league. "We were in kind of a funk in our passing game and we didn't play with a lot of energy.
"Today was a much better performance. We got back on track just in time, cause we have Arcadia and Burbank next week."
The Falcons dominated their win over the Nitros (2-6-3, 1-4-1) from whistle to whistle, notching four first-half goals, outshooting Glendale, 18-1, and controlling possession and the run of the game to a staggering degree.
"We've been in kind of a slump these last few games," reaffirmed Falcons senior forward Jordan Royer, who had two goals and an assist. "Our game's been a little bit sloppy and we haven't been connecting. I think it was a step in the right direction."
Royer put her best foot forward for a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute after starting a sequence that saw her play the ball up to Sierra Rhoads, who passed inside to Claudia Sepulveda, who dished back to Rhoads along the end line. Rhoads crossed the ball beautifully into an awaiting Royer for the score.
Rhoads would finish with a goal and an assist, while Whitley Boller and Cassandra Orozco also tallied goals.
Boller carried possession through at least three Glendale defenders before firing a shot from roughly 10 yards out in the 22nd minute, while Rhoads scored for a 3-0 lead just three minutes later. A throw-in by Mallory Carcich — who led a defensive effort along with Dani Busta and Sarah Worden that completely shut down Glendale — was pinballed around before a Nitro's clearing kick went right to Rhoads, who booted in a left-footed shot from the center of the field roughly 10 yards out.
"Today, it was a little bit of a confidence booster, having us all be on the same page and playing like we can play," Royer said.
Orozco concluded the first-half scoring with a 37th minute goal off a brilliant Royer corner kick to the far post.
Royer wrapped up the scoring with a second-half header.
For Glendale, its only shot and scoring chance came late in the second half when a clearing gaffe by the Falcons goalie went straight to Ashley Aquino. The junior midfielder passed off to sophomore forward Meghan Spencer, but Spencer's shot went left of the exposed net.
"They've been improving every game," said Glendale first-year Coach Victor Aquino, whose Nitros had lost to CV by 11-0 and 5-0 scores last season. "It's a big difference from last year to this year.
"Today, they came out really nervous. I think that's what caused the first and second goals and then, after that, they let down. … Second half, we came out and did much better."
Glendale will face rival Hoover on Tuesday, while Crescenta Valley will host Arcadia before beginning the second half of the league season with matches against Burbank and Burroughs, both of which the Falcons tied in previous matches.
"There's definitely a lot that has to go right for us," said Schulz of the upcoming three-game span. "Burbank is a very good team, Arcadia is also very good and Burroughs is a good team. I think on any given day any one of us can win.
"We're mentally prepared for it, it's the application of their skills that's gonna win it."
Added Royer: "We know that we have to perform. This is basically the most important [time] of the season for us."