GLENDALE — For different reasons, Friday afternoon’s nonleague boys’ soccer match between La Cañada High and host Glendale was a test for both teams.
La Cañada was looking to respond despite playing without four starters, including two that will likely miss a lengthy amount of time with injuries.
PHOTOS: Spartans register 3-1 nonleague road victory over Glendale Nitros
Glendale, after winning its first two matches by a combined 19 goals, was looking to see how it would fare against its stiffest competition yet.
On the strength of two goals from sophomore Lawrence Ku, it was the Spartans who emerged still unbeaten with a 3-1 win over the Nitros at Glendale High’s Moyse Field.
“Obviously, everybody stepped up, which is key,” said Spartans Coach Alex Harrison, whose team improved to 2-0-1. “The boys stepped up.
"I’m beyond pleased.”
Ku scored in the first half and notched another in the second to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead. Senior midfielder Keivan Meshkat’s tally was the final score for the Spartans, coming not long after Nitro Menua Nazarian broke the shutout.
Despite the loss, Glendale Coach Artur Aghasyan was still pleased overall, as well.
“They have a strong team. That’s a good team,” said Aghasyan of the Spartans. “That was a good lesson for us.
“That was an excellent game.”
Glendale was dealt its first loss, falling to 2-1 after drubbing Village Christian, 14-0, and Eagle Rock, 5-0, in previous games.
Against La Cañada, though, the Nitros offense struggled to penetrate the Spartans backline of seniors Austin Gartside and Joe Kim, junior Nick Pereira and freshman Sam Adida.
“Our defense really held up,” Ku said. “I’m really happy with our team effort.”
Spartans senior goalie Graham LaBran-Boyd needed to make just two saves, but they both came in the second half.
The Nitros, led by the strong play of senior forward Menua Nazarian, came out firing in the second half, firing off three shots in the first five minutes.
Nazarian pierced the middle of the field and dished off to junior forward Avo Haroutunyan, who shot just left of the frame. Forty-five seconds later, Nazarian fired another shot. Not long after, Eraldo Fuentes, a senior defender, got off a shot in close for Glendale, but it was easily saved by LaBran-Boyd.
Harrison quickly changed his formation and, though Glendale maintained a slight possession advantage, the Spartans defense cut down the Nitros’ scoring chances noticeably.
La Cañada notched a 1-0 lead early on in the 11th minute when Ku connected on a direct kick from roughly 35 yards out.
“I was going for the goal, I was trying to hit it hard,” he said.
Ku’s second goal was largely the backbreaker, as it came with the Nitros trying to clear the ball and he took possession and immediately blasted a shot from 30 yards out that hit the back of the net high inside the near post.
“I knew the goalie was already out,” Ku said. “I think it kind of killed their spirit, the second goal, and gave us a cushion.”
The cushion was needed when the Nitros halved the Spartans’ lead in the 77th minute when Nazarian headed in a cross from senior midfielder Narbeh Shabani.
Any thoughts of an improbable comeback were stomped out when Meshkat scored from 20 yards out in the final minute of the match.