PASADENA — Hoover and Crescenta Valley highs were in a close battle after the first quarter of Thursday’s Pacific League boys’ water polo match at Pasadena City College.
With the chances the two teams were getting, or lack thereof, it looked as if there was going to be a tighter than expected end to the match.
However, Hoover found the Crescenta Valley weaknesses, put pressure on both sides of the ball and simplified its focus on its way to a 13-8 win that kept the Tornadoes undefeated in league contention.
“You see schemes that they’re running and that you want to run, you make a couple tweaks and then you simplify it,” Hoover coach Kevin Witt said. “You eliminate what you don’t want to do, and you focus on one or two things and then it all becomes easier to them.”
The first quarter ended with the teams tied at 2 before Hoover (12-7, 4-0 in league) outscored Crescenta Valley, 4-2, in the second period with Jordan Corpuz scoring three in the third to help the Tornadoes pull away.
“We started the game really independent,” Corpuz said. “We tried to figure out who we needed to guard well and where we needed to work together to guard their best guys. When we settled in, we figured out if we shut down their two best guys, our offense was going to get moving.
“Defense first and offense later. It was a great team win today.”
Corpuz finished with four goals, tied with David Ashkarian for the team-high.
Crescenta Valley’s Alec Abrahamian had a match-high six goals, scoring twice in the first, third and final period for the Falcons (4-13, 2-1).
“It was very smart play — disciplined,” Crescenta Valley coach Jan Sakonju said. “[Witt] was bringing those defenders over there and doing all the right stuff in order to minimize our chances and they did exactly what needed to be done, which was to force [our] other guys to step in to score.”
Abrahamian opened the scoring with 3:09 left in the first quarter before Corpuz tied it with a five-meter penalty shot a minute later.
Hoover’s Hayk Nazaryan gave the Tornadoes the 2-1 lead with 90 seconds left in the quarter, but Abrahamian tied it again with about one minute remaining.
“Whenever you play a team that’s really focused on a couple of players, sometimes it takes you a couple possessions to realize what they’re trying to do, and it did.” Witt said. “It took us a little while to figure out how they’re going to play their moves … and once we got a feel with what we’re working with, I think the guys started gaining confidence and started feeling they can start putting a little more pressure on them.”
Ashkarian’s scored a pair of goals and Hakop Ansuryan’s added one in between for a Hoover 5-2 second quarter lead with 58 seconds left in the half.
Abrahamian scored a solo goal off a rebound to put the Falcons within two, 5-3, but Nazaryan scored 15 seconds later to gave the Tornadoes a 6-3 halftime lead.
“We run a zone defense, but with the inexperienced players, there was a bit of tentativeness and they were getting [to their man] late,” Sakonju said.
Corpuz netted a goal less than a minute into the third period to give Hoover its largest lead of the game at 7-3.
He doubled up in the period to extend the Hoover lead to 8-3 with 4:15 left, before Bodoe Wyss cut it 8-4.
Corpuz closed the third quarter with a last-second goal from mid-pool for a 9-5 Hoover lead.
“We knew that if we played good defense and have good match-ups [on the right side of the pool], then we’d get out on our one-two side and counter on offense and it all fell into place really well,” Corpuz said.
Abrahamian cut it to 9-6 before Ashkarian tacked on another score for the Tornadoes at the 3:33 mark.
The Falcons pushed late and sliced the Tornadoes lead to 11-8 with 2:30 left, but Ashkarian added a goal and Artur Khachatryan added an insurance score to seal the victory.