GLENDALE — One team keeps its hopes alive, while another sees its hopes dashed.
With three matches remaining coming into Friday's Pacific League boys' soccer contest between Hoover High and Burbank, both squads were fighting for their playoff lives. Although the Bulldogs could absorb a loss and still be in contention for a postseason spot, the Tornadoes couldn't afford that luxury.
Knowing full well a loss would end their playoff quest; Hoover battled and held a lead against the visiting Bulldogs. However, Burbank came through with two goals in the second half — the winner coming in the final six minutes — to pull out a 2-1 victory.
With two games left next week and just 10 points in league, there is no way the Tornadoes (2-6-4 in league) can finish among the top four teams and earn a berth into the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
"It was a must-win for both teams, and in the end Burbank got the win," Hoover Coach Kevin Cadenas said. "We had our chances to score goals and we didn't; it's as simple as that.
"Hopefully we can forget about this one and finish the season strong with our last two games."
On a day that saw Crescenta Valley (10-0-2) clinch the league championship with a 4-1 win against Pasadena (5-4-3), the Bulldogs (6-6-2, 5-5-2) moved into fourth place. Burroughs (6-3-3) is in second with 21 points, followed by Pasadena (18), Burbank (17) and Arcadia (15).
First-year Burbank Coach Loi Phan said his players aren't used to still being in playoff contention this late in the season after missing the postseason the past two years.
"Knowing our guys have a chance to go to the playoffs, they played really hard," said Phan, whose team scored both of its goals on long set pieces. "I told the guys the difference this year was going to be how you win and how you lose. The whole point is earning the respect of the team you're playing against."
Hoover struck first in the 28th minute when a ball took a bad hop and got past the Burbank defense at midfield. The Tornadoes' Artan Almary took the gift and sprinted down the right sideline. He centered the ball and followed his shot. He sprinted toward the goal, took control of a bank and put the ball in the net.
The half ended with Hoover up, 1-0.
In the second half, the Bulldogs scored the equalizer in the 48th minute. On a corner kick, Tadeh Anbarchian delivered a header that was rocketed past Hoover goalkeeper Malek Azadegan.
Anbarchian also tallied the match-winner, much to his surprise. On a throw-in from the left side deep in the Hoover zone, Anbarchian was positioned just outside the goal mouth. The ball came careening in, somehow hit his back, nicked off of the keeper and into the goal.
"I felt it hit the top of my back," Anbarchian said. "But I didn't know that it went in. That was pretty crazy."