GLENDALE — In its season-opening match Tuesday night, the Glendale Community College men’s soccer team overcame a late major hurdle while also receiving an impressive performance from its reserve goalkeeper.
With starting goalkeeper Julian Ortega expected to miss the first part of the season because of a shoulder injury, Christian Chavarria filled in admirably while the Vaqueros played the final 24 minutes short-handed.
“I redshirted last year and, with Julian out with the injury, I had to go in there and step up,” said Chavarria, who made two point-blank stops in the first half. “My job is to make the saves, whether they are tough or not.
“I liked the way we played while we were short-handed. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but the guys stepped up. The game can turn on you and your defenders very quickly in a situation like that.”
Glendale, which finished 5-13-3, 5-8-3 in the Western State Conference South Division for sixth place last season, saw midfielder Vartan Sarkissian receive a red card with 24 minutes left. Sarkissian was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after a collision with an Irvine Valley player near midfield.
Irvine Valley (0-0-1) threatened several times in the final 20 minutes, but couldn’t solve Chavarria.
“We got our defenders out there to mark the best they could,” said Chavarria, who deflected a shot just inside the box by Joe Rousseau with about 10 minutes remaining in the match. “Some of the shots they took were good ones and weren’t very easy to stop.
“They had some guys who got off some good shots.”
Glendale Coach Joe Agoston said Chavarria responded well throughout the 90-minute match.
“He made some real nice saves,” Agoston said. “He did his job and we will look for him to keep improving.”
Chavarria’s best first-half save came in the 27th minute when he stopped Alejandro Velazquez in the middle of the box. Chavarria also made another nice save against Velazquez in the closing minutes of the first half to preserve the shutout.
Glendale had some difficulty generating quality scoring chances. The Vaqueros finished with two shots on goal, both in the second half, in a contest that saw a bank of field lights not operate.
Agoston said the Vaqueros showed some resiliency following Sarkissian’s ejection.
“Overall, I’m satisfied with how things turned out,” Agoston said. “We still need to improve offensively and defensively and we can’t afford to give away chances.
“It’s the first time they’ve played together. So, we will go on from here. We just want to keep on seeing improvement.”
The Vaqueros, who last won a conference championship in 2000 and are seeking their first winning season since 2003, will next participate in another nonconference home match at 7 p.m. Friday against Cypress.
Glendale will play its first four contests at home before playing a road match against L.A. Harbor on Sept. 13. The Vaqueros will begin conference action Sept. 17 against visiting College of the Canyons.