LA CRESCENTA — Jason Winicki took the initiative as he headed for the net.
With a nice cross pass heading in Winicki's direction, the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer player broke away from his defender with a quality scoring opportunity on the line.
Winicki capitalized on the chance, as he scored on a header midway through the first half to spur host Crescenta Valley to a 2-1 victory against Crespi on Thursday afternoon in a Westside Tournament match.
Crescenta Valley improved to 2-0 and came within five seconds of posting its second shutout. The Falcons began the season Monday with a 3-0 tournament victory against host Taft. Crespi dipped to 1-1 after beginning its season with a 2-0 victory against Mira Costa.
Winicki, a junior forward, took a pass from Chris Sinani and headed the ball just under the crossbar to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.
“I was working on a near-post run and I had to adjust in able to find the ball,” Winicki said. “I got away from my defender and saw the ball floating. I got to it and had confidence that the ball would go in after I headed it.
“It's a good team effort and we got another good effort from our defense.”
Crescenta Valley, which finished second in the Pacific League last season after winning a CIF Southern Section Division IV championship in 2012, didn't stop attacking against Crespi after Winicki's goal.
The Falcons used their speed to make it 2-0 in the 35th minute.
Tony Royer sent the ball deep into Crespi territory. Crescenta Valley forward Matt Ryan broke past a Crespi defender and recorded a shot on goal that was stopped by Keenan Casey (eight saves). Ryan pounced on the rebound and tapped it into the empty net to provide the Falcons with some insurance.
“These guys go after it all the time,” Crescenta Valley third-year Coach Grant Clark said. “They are fun to watch and they understand each other.
“Crespi's got a real good program and they were a good measuring stick for us. We've been watching film of our team and looking at how we work getting to the ball and how we play away from the ball.”
Crescenta Valley and Crespi each had a couple of quality scoring chances in the second half. Crespi avoided the shutout when Max Sole scored with five seconds remaining.
Crescenta Valley starting goalkeeper Chris Mardiroussian finished with five first-half saves. Mardiroussian stopped Crespi's Aleks Berkolds inside the box in the 18th minute. The Falcons turned to reserve goalkeeper Adan Martinez, who registered four saves in the second half.