NORTHWEST GLENDALE — In the big picture, the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team is enjoying the frontrunner position in the Pacific League, but right now the Falcons are only concentrating their focus on the opponent at hand, one game at a time.
Anything less on Friday afternoon might have cost the reigning league champs dearly against a game Hoover squad that played one of its strongest matches of the season and forced the Falcons to work for a 1-0 league road win.
"Our goal was to get three points on the road and we did it," said Falcons Coach Kiel McClung, whose team coughed up a large lead in the league race last season and didn't clinch the title until the final day of the regular season because of, according to McClung, a lack of focus on it's own games. "It wasn't a pretty game. It's tough to play good soccer on [this] field, it's tough to be able to knock the ball. Hoover did a very good job of pressuring us defensively. It made things very tough on us today."
The Falcons' win came down to a lone first-half goal on a header by Pavle Atanackovic, as the Tornadoes (3-10-1, 1-8-1 in league) didn't mount many threats offensively, but pressured Crescenta Valley (9-2-5, 7-0-3) well and got eight saves from junior Brian Maya in only his second game in goal for the team.
"He did well," Cadenas said of Maya. ""He played [his] first game against Arcadia [on Wednesday], so he's just getting some experience, but today he stepped up.
"Today I was happy with the guys. I thought the guys stepped up. We played a good team, CV, we lost, 1-0. Today, I have no complaints."
In the 36th minute, Crescenta Valley's Vahe Nalbandian sent a high-arcing ball deep into the box from the midfield, where Atanackovic had to not only get his head on the ball amid defenders but also conduct the ball into a narrow window from the extreme left side of the goal. His shot lodged just inside the right-side netting.
"The lesson we're trying to focus on this year is just one game at a time," said McClung, whose team faces Muir at home Wednesday. "Everything was focused on Hoover [today], we got our three points and now everything is going to be focused on Muir."