Penalty-kick situations didn't occur during the regular season for the Glendale High boys' soccer team. The Nitros encountered their first test Wednesday afternoon in the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs.
Glendale passed the examination with a 0-0 (4-3) wild-card win against host Garden Grove Pacifica.
“It’s something that’s all mental,” said Glendale first-year Coach Artur Aghasyan, who saw Avo Haroutunian end the suspense with a goal that just eluded Pacifica goalkeeper Scott Dutton’s fingertips inside the right post. “We worked on it at practice [Tuesday] and it’s about who is confident going out there and being able to handle it.
“It’s a 50-50 thing. The important thing is the result. We are very happy right now, plus it’s good for our school.”
Glendale and Pacifica (7-9-4) squeezed in a five-round penalty-kick session during the last few moments of daylight.
Pacifica, which finished third in the Empire League, shot first in the penalty kicks. Christian Whitford gave the mariners a 1-0 advantage before Serozh Kirakosyan of Glendale lined a shot over the crossbar. Pacifica’s Bradley Odeal made it 2-0, but Glendale’s Leo Magardechian cut it to 2-1.
In the third round, Glendale goalkeeper Alisher Baibussinov, who was taken out for part of overtime after hitting the back of his head during a collision with a Pacifica player, made a diving save on Joseph Ayers.
Baibussinov’s save appeared to spark the Nitros, who finished fourth in the Pacific League. Narbeh Shabani of Glendale knotted it at 2.
After Josh Alcalde missed with a shot over the crossbar on Pacifica’s fourth attempt, Glendale’s Albert Chamagua made it 3-2 with a low shot.
Jeremy Lawrence knotted it at 3 to begin the fifth round, but Haroutunian clinched it for the Nitros before being mobbed by his teammates.
“I got good placement on the shot and he got a piece of it,” Haroutunian said. “We had to have the mindset going into it that we could make our shots.
“You go in there and try to block things out. Alisher stepped up for us when we fell behind 2-0. It gave us a chance to at least tie it up and maybe win.”
Baibussinov finished with 11 saves, including 10 in regulation.
Baibussinov shook off the effects from the earlier collision to provide the Nitros hope.
“I knew I would have to be confident and you know that you can’t second guess yourself,” Baibussinov said. “I knew I had to make a save in that third round to keep us going.
“We’ve been pushing ourselves the last couple of weeks to get here. Our last few league games were like playoff games.”
Each team had quality scoring opportunities in the first half. Baibussinov made a diving save near the left post in the fifth minute on Odell. Dutton stopped one shot each by Haroutunian and Shabani in a 30-second span in the 15th minute.
In the 60th minute, a Pacifica defender pulled down Magardechain inside the box, resulting in the Nitros being awarded a penalty shot. However, Andre Anderasian’s shot was stopped by a diving Sutton.