BURBANK — If the Hoover High boys’ soccer team doesn’t qualify for the playoffs this season, it can look at Francisco Baez as one of the reasons.
The Burroughs midfielder proved again to be a detriment to the Tornadoes and a hero for the Indians.
Baez recorded his first career four-goal match and added two assists Monday afternoon to spark host Burroughs to a lopsided 6-1 Pacific League victory against Hoover at Luther Burbank Middle School.
The match was a rain makeup for a contest originally scheduled for Jan. 23.
In addition, Baez helped Burroughs jump into second place in league behind Crescenta Valley. Burroughs improved to 6-8-3 and 5-3-2 in league for 17 points, while Hoover fell to 3-6-4, 2-4-4 for 10 points and remains entrenched in sixth place. The top four teams receive automatic playoff berths.
Baez wasted little time heating up Monday, as he scored his first three goals in the first 20 minutes of the match and helped the Indians surge to a two-point lead over Pasadena and three ahead of Arcadia in league.
“I was just able to pick my spots and I got some great passes from my teammates,” said Baez, who scored with two minutes left to give Burroughs a 1-0 win at Hoover on Jan. 3. “I give them props.
“It’s just a coincidence that I’ve done well [against Hoover]. This league is tough and you have to be ready. We focused on our positioning and Hoover gave us a good fight.”
Baez staked Burroughs to a 1-0 lead when he took a picture-perfect pass from Alex Avelar-Escalante and beat Hoover goalkeeper Malek Azadegan in the ninth minute. Baez made it 2-0 as he received a crisp pass from Nolberto Alcantar and lined a shot past Azadegan in the 12th minute.
Alcantar extended Burroughs’ advantage to 3-0 off a pass from Baez in the 20th minute to close out the first-half scoring.
Burroughs assistant Coach Gustavo Gomez said the Indians needed a big performance from Baez.
“He got off to that great start and we had a 3-0 lead 20 minutes in,” Gomez said. “When he’s on, he’s on.
“We dipped a little after the first 20 minutes and we got a bit sloppy. This is a big win that we wanted to get.”
Hoover cut the lead to 3-1 on a penalty kick by Sarkis Tumasyan in the 45th minute. Burroughs defender Ozzie Castro shoved Hoover’s Romel Sarkisloo in the goalie box, resulting in the Tornadoes being awarded a penalty shot.
Before Hoover could regain any additional momentum, Baez and the Indians quickly gained control. Baez tipped in a pass from Jorman Herrera in the 53rd minute to make it 4-1.
Govanni Medina extended Burroughs’ advantage to 5-1 off an assist from Baez in the 55th minute. Baez completed the scoring a minute later.
“Francisco is a great player and he’s got a lot of club experience,” Hoover Coach Kevin Cadenas said. “He brought it against us both times.
“He’s humble and he works hard. This was a must win for both teams and Burroughs came out more focused and aggressive and we made some mistakes. Burroughs has a good team and their defense didn’t make any mistakes. Our playoff chances took a hit, but we still have four games left and anything can happen.”
Hoover and Burroughs will participate in league matches at 3:30 p.m. today. Hoover will meet first-place Crescenta Valley on the road and Burroughs will battle Muir at home.