By Alan DER OHANNESSIAN
The Falcons varsity soccer kept the Glendale Nitros at bay on Tuesday afternoon scoring 3-0 to secure the Pacific League title 10-0-3.
After being held to a one goal draw in their last meeting on Jan. 14 when Glendale scored in the last minute, the Falcons were looking to get a solid ‘W’. But it wasn’t going to be easy as the Falcons had a big obstacle: midfielder Vahe Nalbandian was missing from action for having two red cards in the season.
Heading into the match, both teams came out aggressive. Falcons defender Chris Fierro passed to forward Pavle Atanackovic into the penalty box, however his shot was blocked by Nitros’ defender Pedro Salinas.
On another possession, forward Atanackovic received a pass from one of the midfield players into the penalty box. Although Nitros’ goalkeeper Aris Yeghiazaryan was positioned wrong, he kept the goal out with his feet at the last minute.
Strong teamwork was found with defender Reilly Solis and midfielder Jaehoon Jung creating an opportunity for Atanackovic to score but the shot ventured over the post.
A lob by Alex Berger was aiming toward fellow midfielder Andrew Reyes but he couldn’t reach it as the Nitros goalkeeper and one of their defenders bumped into each other. Atanackovic was able to capitalize on their mistake and steal the ball to put it into the net for the Falcon’s first goal.
Being down by one seemed to inflame the Nitros resolve.
Nitros captain and forward Levon Sargsyan stole the ball from Falcons’ defender Matt Schmutzer, leaving goalkeeper Nick Ruiz to beat for the equalizer. However, Ruiz was able to redeem his teammate’s mistake as he dived to save the ball to his upper left.
On another possession, Nitros forward Alan Ghazarians made an ambitious shot from 25 yards from the goal, hitting the post.
Despite being up, the Falcons were frustrated when midfielder Jung was tackled with the ball in the penalty box, but wasn’t awarded a penalty. Instead he got a yellow card as the referee thought he dived himself into the ground.
The Falcons went into halftime maintaining their one-goal lead.
Coming back onto the field for the second half, the Falcons extended their lead avoiding their January fate.
Midfielder Eric Keshishian played a cross pass to Atanackovic into the penalty box as he put it into the upper middle past Nitros’ substitute goalkeeper James Mizuky.
The Falcons put the game away when defender Robin Kum played a lob to Atanackovic for a header to the right side of Mizuky for his third goal of the afternoon.
The Falcons could have scored again, however they missed the opportunity. Defender Matthew Bracht played a long pass to Atanackovic who found forward Erick Trejo wide with only the goalkeeper to beat, but he couldn’t control the ball resulting in a weak shot into the goalkeeper’s hands.
When the final whistle was blown CV walked off with a score of 3-0, securing the solid win they were looking for.
Head Coach Kiel McClung said goalkeeper Ruiz and the team’s defense led to the win Tuesday.
“Nick came up with key saves at key moments and we had another solid performance from our backline,” McClung said.
He added that the Nitros should be commended for their effort at the start of the match.
“Glendale was all over us in the first 15 minutes,” he said adding that the Falcons stood their ground and got back to their style of playing to score at the end of the first half giving them a huge momentum going into halftime.
With the win, the Falcons defended their Pacific League for the second time in a row.
McClung was happy that they didn’t have to play until the last game to secure their ranking as was the case last year.
The Falcons play their final match of the season against Arcadia today at 3:15 p.m. at CV.