NORTHWEST GLENDALE — As raindrops finally began to shower from the dark, threatening storm clouds that had hovered over the field all afternoon, the lead the Hoover High boys' soccer team held over Arcadia for most of Friday afternoon's Pacific League match became slippery late in the second half.
Diego Gonzalez' 66th-minute goal put the Apaches right back in the match, down just one goal, and Hoover spent the rest of the match on the defensive, but in the end made sure Argin Haghoubian's two first-half goals were enough to secure a 2-1 win.
"In the first half, we had the tempo, we knew what we were doing. In the second half, we got a little desperate, gave up a goal and we lost our heads a little," said Hoover Coach Kevin Cadenas, whose team evened its overall record at 3-3, as well as its league mark at 1-1. "But I'm happy with the win. In this weather, you can't really have beautiful soccer.
"[It's going to be] whoever scores, whoever is aggressive and has the chances, and thank God, it was us."
An aggressive start saw the Tornadoes get out to an early lead.
Just eight minutes in, a free kick from the midfield by Marlon Cordero was one-touched in the goal box by Teodik Zaghian to Haghoubian, who knocked it in with a low header.
Hoover continued to dominate possession and keep pressure on the Apaches for the rest of the half until getting a second goal that was equal parts opportunism and byproduct of a damp, muddy playing surface.
Rene Chicas' free kick in the 23rd minute was knocked down by Arcadia goalkeeper Andrew Chin, but fumbled away to Haghoubian for an easy finish from close range.
"Today we started good, we were focused," Haghoubian said. "In the second half, we weren't as focused and that's when we made our mistakes."
After outshooting Arcadia, 6-3, in the first half, the Tornadoes saw the Apaches get 10 second-half shots off, but Hoover goalkeeper Tadeh Zaghian made a spectacular play to stop two of Arcadia's best chances.
Jake Ryu fired a shot that was saved from 15 yards and a split second later Zaghian was making a save from on his back on Sebastian Ronga's point-blank follow.
But the Apaches (0-5-1, 0-1-1 in league) wouldn't be held down for long, as a mighty heave by John Van den Bosch on a throw-in from near midfield sailed all the way to the far side of the goal box where Gonzalez was crashing in unmarked.
Hoover was simply hanging on over the last few minutes, but the rain worked both ways, as neither team got many great looks down the stretch, save for what appeared to be a breakaway Hoover goal inside the final minute before an offsides call nullified the tally.