By Alan der OHANNESSIAN
The Nitros’ unbending will in the face of adversity and goalkeeper Ariz Yeghiazaryan’s heroics in the final minutes of Tuesday’s game helped Glendale varsity soccer secure a one-goal draw in their season opener against the Falcons.
The Falcons were confident coming into the match, having beaten Glendale 3-0 in their last meeting. But the Falcons had to recover from a sluggish start to control the first half offensively.
Returning CV midfielder Eric Keshishian played a lob to captain
Salar Hajimirsadeghi inside the penalty box as he kicked the ball on the fly only to be saved by Glendale’s Yeghiazaryan. Midfielder Jung Jaehoon got a pass from Rani Dimashki inside the penalty box however his shot sailed just outside the left side of the goalkeeper in another missed opportunity.
The Falcons kept attacking, however Nitros’ defense was up to the challenge.
Nitro Allen Garakasian blocked a clear Falcon shot by defender Brian Ju and Alex Berger, playing a lob intended for Pavle Atanackovic, was headed out by defender Medina Mauricio.
When Nitros’ defense wasn’t an issue, legalities prevented the Falcons from scoring.
Berger played a long pass to Keshishian right on the spot, leaving only the goalkeeper to beat, however an offside ruling stopped the attempt. Nitros forward Steve Hernandez played a pass to Alberto Chamagua inside the penalty box only to be called offside as the half ended in a goalless draw.
Both sides retook the field in the second revitalized and looking for the win.
Berger played a lob to Atanackovic inside the penalty area, but Atanackovic couldn’t manage the ball, losing a clean shot within inches of the goalkeeper.
Midfielder Michael Shahnazarians played a pass to Atanackovic, but his forceful shot was saved by the goalkeeper.
Things got worse for the Falcons when Hajimirsadeghi was called for handball resulting in a penalty kick for Glendale. But Nitro midfielder Artur Nazarian missed it drawing a sigh of relief from CV fans.
The Falcons recovered when Berger played a lob to Atanackovic whose header sailed past the goalkeeper’s left, giving CV the lead.
It seemed the Falcons fortune grew as they had another clear opportunity to score. A lob by Berger to Atanackovic was intercepted by the goalie, however the Nitro dropped it. Erick Trejo was ready, kicking the ball on the fly with the goalkeeper out of position. But the ball missed the target, leaving Trejo with a look of disbelief on his face.
But the real force to be reckoned with was Yeghiazaryan. No matter what CV threw at him, it was like slamming into a wall.
Shahnazarians shot a rocket but Yeghiazaryan dived to his limit to save it, drawing applause from Shahnazarians and Atanackovic for his effort.
Despite attacks, the Nitros never lost faith in scoring, seizing the opportunity when it came.
Nazarian, who had earlier missed the penalty shot, redeemed himself as he lobbed the ball over Nick Ruiz to tie the game with 2:26 remaining.
However that didn’t deflate the Falcons’ enthusiasm.
A corner shot by Berger almost deceived the goalkeeper, thinking the shot was intended for Atanackovic. But Glendale saved the attempt with his fingertips.
With seconds on the clock, the Falcons had one last chance to steal the lead.
Hajimirsadeghi had a clean shot, but it was saved as the referee blew the whistle to signal the end of the game.
After the game, Coach Grant Clark attributed rustiness for the team’s lackluster performance.
“They weren’t mentally prepared,” said Clark. “We had three weeks off since the middle of December. We were going through the motions for first 60 minutes. You can’t play a varsity match like that and expect to win.”
He added that he wants to see better ball movement and, more importantly, more intensity.
The Falcons next take on Burroughs at home on Jan. 9 at 3:15 p.m.