SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — With Glendale High on a bit of a roll of late and Hoover one game removed from an embarrassing defeat in which the wheels fell clean off, Tuesday's Pacific League boys' soccer rivalry game started off very much along those same lines.
The Nitros, who in the past week beat Muir and rallied to tie Crescenta Valley at a time when each of those squads was atop the league standings, had gotten a three-goal jump on the Tornadoes by the early stages of the second half at Moyse Field.
But that's where things took a dramatically different turn, with the suddenly energized Tornadoes scoring three unanswered goals, ending with Jesse Roman's tying tally in the 75th minute to force a 3-3 tie with the stunned Nitros.
"It's a big rivalry, so we didn't want to lose to our rival," said Hoover's Rene Chicas, who assisted on all three of the Tornadoes' goals, which all occurred on free kicks. "We wanted to make our comeback because we had a lot of time and we knew we were good enough to make a comeback and maybe win it.
"I just told my team to keep it up and we'll have our chances and we got three scores."
The final goal, set up by a cross to Roman on a 35-yard free kick, was not without controversy. Glendale Coach Tulio Marroquin said the referee blew a whistle amid the play that ended with Roman's goal, but then allowed play to continue and the goal to stand even though the Nitros had stopped playing.
"The guys stopped playing, of course, because they heard the whistle and then [the referee] let the play continue," Marroquin said. "I don't know why he blew the whistle. …I don't know if he was thinking about calling the offsides, because he basically was offsides, but then he changed his mind."
Hoover Coach Kevin Cadenas said no one on his sideline heard the whistle, just as the referee himself denied blowing it, according to Marroquin.
"I didn't hear a whistle," Cadenas said. "I guess Glendale thought there was an offsides and they stood still. We took advantage of it and scored a goal."
Glendale got a goal from Levon Sargsyan in the 10th minute, assisted by David Martirosyan, and then went up, 2-0, in the 37th minute on a Kelby Hernandez goal assisted by Pedro Salinas.
Martirosyan scored in the 42nd minute on an assist from Sargsyan for the 14th straight goal allowed by Hoover over a three-match span, including Friday's 9-0 loss to Burroughs.
"We got comfortable, got lazy and Hoover just kept playing," Marroquin said. "We dominated play the entire game, but to Hoover's credit they didn't stop playing. Our team just stopped playing. That's what cost us the game."
Hoover's rally began with a Sarkis Tumasyan goal in the 60th minute and the Tornadoes pulled to within 3-2 with 10 minutes to play on a Luis Lopez tally.
"In halftime I told the guys to show some character," Cadenas said. "We've been working hard. …Today we came ready to play and stepped up. The Glendale-Hoover rivalry gave us an extra little boost."
Hoover (3-7-1) improved to 1-5-1 in league and stopped a five-match losing streak, while Glendale, which started the day in third place, further increased its considerable total of ties, both overall (4-0-7) and in league (2-0-5).
"At this point, if we keep getting tie after tie we're going to be out [of the playoffs]," Marroquin said. "It's going to be up for grabs, the fourth spot [in league.]"