LA CAÑADA — Taking penalty shots appears to come natural for Avo Haroutunyan lately.
Haroutunyan, a junior midfielder on the Glendale High boys’ soccer team, capitalized on a pair of penalty shots in the La Cañada High Tournament. His biggest came Monday.
“I just feel like it’s my time in those situations,” said Haroutunyan, who rolled a low shot inside the left post past La Cañada senior goalkeeper Graham Labran-Boyd to give the Nitros a 2-1 advantage. “I’m not scared to take those shots.
“It’s more about getting the shot off on the inside of my foot. It took a lot of effort to win this tournament.”
Glendale, playing its third match in less than a month against La Cañada, improved to 6-3-1. La Cañada, which had won the first two meetings against Glendale, including a 2-1 tournament win against the Nitros on Saturday, fell to 6-2-3.
Glendale received the penalty shot opportunity when a corner kick by Haroutunyan struck a La Cañada player on the hand inside the box. Glendale Coach Artur Aghasyan signaled to Haroutunyan, who scored on a penalty shot in Saturday’s match, to take the shot.
It proved to be a wise choice by Aghasyan, whose team fell to the Spartans in the tournament’s championship match last season.
“I know that he’s very comfortable taking penalty shots,” said Aghasyan, who guided the Nitros to a playoff appearance last season. “We have some other guys who can take them, too.
“We really wanted to win this tournament and it meant everybody had to give it their all. They played hard and competed very well. We played well in the loss [Saturday], but we felt like we could pick up our game and play even better. We are seeing improvement each game.”
After a scoreless first half, Glendale took a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute. Sophomore midfielder Josh Arevalo made a nice cross just outside the box to uncovered senior midfielder Ferni Martinez, who lined a shot inside the far right-hand corner.
The Spartans, who placed second in the Rio Hondo League last season, then seized the momentum moments later.
La Cañada knotted it at 1 when sophomore forward Lawrence Ku threaded a nifty pass inside the box to Andrew Meeker, who beat Glendale junior goalkeeper Ervin Vartoomian with a high shot in the 71st minute.
Moments later, Harotunyan closed out the scoring, leaving La Cañada Coach Alex Harrison to ponder.
“It’s a call by the referee, so what are you going to do?,” Harrison said. “Sometimes you benefit from those type of calls and other times you don’t, so it pretty much evens out.
“Glendale has got a good team and they played hard. I thought we played well, too, but we need a little bit more sense of urgency in the midfield with our physical play. We have a lot of young players. I think we are in good shape, though.”
Glendale will next compete at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday in a Pacific League-opening match against host Crescenta Valley. La Cañada will next face visiting Hart in a nonleague match at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 9.