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Hoover boys' water polo captures another league championship

ARCADIA — From accurate shooting, to relentless defense, to stellar goalkeeping, the Hoover High boys’ water polo team appeared to have all the pieces in place to contend for the Pacific League championship this season.

Dominant on both ends of the pool, a hungry Hoover squad displayed why it was a prohibitive favorite in league this season with a textbook performance in the league tournament’s championship match Thursday at Arcadia High.

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Top-seeded Hoover received a balanced scoring attack, including six goals from standout David Ashkharian, and created nine counter-attacks to roll to a convincing 15-5 victory against third-seeded Arcadia.

Hoover (8-0 in league) won its second league crown in the past three seasons after last winning it in 1989. Hoover finished second last season behind Burroughs.

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“You saw what we could do on offense and defense and our guys know how to respond to pressure situations,” Hoover coach Kevin Witt said. “They showed it in the semifinal match against Crescenta Valley and in other tournaments we’ve played in the season.

“A lot of our players have championship experience and it paid off today. They really play at their best when asked of them. You saw that on offense and defense.”

Hoover received two goals apiece from Jordan Corpuz, Hayk Nazaryan and Nic Salandi to overpower Arcadia (5-3 in league). The Tornadoes swarmed the Apaches in the middle of the pool, leading to turnovers and goals.

Hoover never trailed and yielded one goal in the third quarter.

“We came in and took pride with playing defense and it worked out well,” Corpuz said. “We did a real good job on the counter-attacks and it was huge to get some goals off of that.

“It’s a big goal of ours to win league. It’s something we wanted right away. Now, we hope to keep it going in the playoffs.”

Hoover built a 3-0 lead on a man-advantage goal by Corpuz with 4:05 left in the first quarter before Arcadia closed to within one, 3-2.

The Tornadoes scored four goals in less than three minutes in the second quarter to grab an 8-2 halftime advantage. Ashkharian had two goals to pave the way.

“I think it was big to get out early and then we were able to control things with the counter-attacks and create good scoring opportunities,” Ashkharian said. “It was pretty fast paced early in the game.

“It’s awesome to win league and go undefeated in doing it.”

Hoover outscored Arcadia, 5-1, in third quarter to extend the lead to 13-3. The Tornadoes scored all of their goals in the quarter in a little more than three minutes.

Hoover got one goal apiece from Samvel Manukyan, Raffi Azarian and Hakop Ansuryan.

Tornadoes goalkeeper Henry Pruett earned the win, stopping eight Apaches shots.

Arcadia, which defeated No. 2 Glendale in a semifinal match Tuesday, received three goals from Christian Lowe and one each from Aramis Kelkelyan and Serop Kelkelian.

The CIF Southern Section playoff pairings will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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