LA CRESCENTA — Fresh off capturing tournament championships, the members of the Crescenta Valley High and Glendale boys’ soccer teams shifted their concentration to the beginning of Pacific League competition Tuesday.
Crescenta Valley and Glendale entered the matchup with high expectations, including looking to finish at or near the top of league in February. A huge performance by Matt Ryan went a long way for top-ranked Crescenta Valley in the see-saw contest.
Ryan finished with three goals and one assist and Justin Wright added one goal and two assists to spark host Crescenta Valley to a 5-3 victory in the first of two meetings between the squads.
“I honestly came into the game thinking it would be low scoring,” said Ryan, who had two second-half goals. “It was great to score three goals, but it’s way more important to start off league with a victory.
“My midfielders gave me some great passes and all I had to do was tap them in. Glendale has got a real good team and they played well today.”
Crescenta Valley (11-1-2) and Glendale (6-4-1) each won tournaments on Dec. 30. The Falcons, ranked No. 1 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division III poll, won the Hart High Showcase. The Nitros, No. 5 in the division, took first in the La Cañada High Tournament. The Falcons and Nitros will face off again at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at Glendale.
Glendale controlled the pace early in the match and took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Menua Nazarian in the seventh minute. The lead would be short-lived, as Ryan knotted it at 1 about two minutes later.
Wright gave Crescenta Valley, which finished second in league last season after winning it the previous three seasons, a 2-1 advantage in the 14th minute. Eric Hartoonian made it 3-1 with two seconds left in the first half.
Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark said the Falcons were able to regroup following a sluggish beginning.
“You know going in that Glendale will come ready to play,” Clark said. “Glendale will never give you a half-hearted effort and they got us off-guard early.
“We were not mentally prepared in the beginning. We were fortunate to come back and get a big effort from Matt and get those three [league] points.”
The Nitros, who took fourth in league last season, sliced the deficit to 3-2 in the 53rd minute on a goal by Nazarian. Glendale nearly deadlocked it at 3 a minute later, but a shot by Avo Haroutunyan struck the crossbar.
Wright made it 4-2 when he took a nice pass from Wright and found the back of the net in the 66th minute.
Glendale responded with a goal by Aram Atamian (assist from Armen Hovhannisyan) in the 77th minute to pull the Nitros to within 4-3. However, Ryan completed his scoring display with less than a minute left.
“Matt and Justin are fun to watch and they find ways to feed off each other,” Clark said. “Justin made some great passes to Matt, who made some good runs.”
Glendale second-year Coach Artur Aghasyan said the Nitros needed to take some chances after they fell behind in the first half.
“The game just opened up and we had to find ways to come back,” Aghasyan said. “When you trail by two goals, you need to start moving the team up.
“Unfortunately for us, it opened up gaps [for Crescenta Valley]. We like our team and we gave it our best. CV is a great team. These were two good teams going at it.”
Crescenta Valley and Glendale will next take part in league matches Friday. Crescenta Valley will meeting visiting Muir at 3:15 p.m. and Glendale will take on host Burroughs, which won the league championship last season, at 3:30.