"My position is to either distribute the ball or turn around and shoot," said Atanackovic, who leads Crescenta Valley (5-2-5, 3-0-3 in league) with 13 goals and 28 points entering today's league road match against archrival Arcadia. "Things have been going well for me so far and I expect us to at least share league.
"I've learned a lot since my freshman year."
Flashing back two seasons, Atanackovic became a fixture in Crescenta Valley's budding lineup.
Atanackovic's new-found confidence spilled over to last season, when he factored into helping the Falcons win the program's first league crown. He finished with 12 goals en route to securing All-Area and all-league first-team accolades for the first time.
When Crescenta Valley Coach Kiel McClung took over the program from Tino Morfin last season, McClung didn't hesitate in finding a starting spot in the lineup for Atanackovic.
"When I first saw Pavle, I could see that he was naturally talented," McClung said. "He was young and maybe he didn't understand all of the points of the game.
"Last year, I challenged him to go play for a club team. He's grown so much since the start of last season."
Atanackovic joined Pasadena-based Futbol Club Golden State Soccer Club, which is coached by La Cañada High girls' soccer Coach Louie Bilowitz.
Atanackovic said Bilowitz, who led La Cañada's boys team to multiple CIF championships in the 1990s, helped him formulate a plan of attacking the net with crisp and accurate shots.
"He's helped me become a much better player," said Atanackovic, who served as place kicker on the Crescenta Valley football team this season and was named to the All-Area second team after kicking five field goals. "He saw how I could be able to distribute the ball or get off a good, hard shot."