NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Thanks to another big performance from its top player, the Hoover High boys' water polo team is in line to contend for its first regular-season league championship.
It didn't take long for Hakop Kaplanyan to get going and keep the Tornadoes undefeated in league with a match left against cross-town rival Glendale.
"We wanted to come out with a big start and not suffer later," said Kaplanyan, whose finished with a match-high eight goals — including four in the first quarter — to power host Hoover to a convincing 21-5 Pacific League win against Arcadia on Thursday afternoon. "We just came out and played smoothly the whole game."
Hoover (15-4, 5-0 in league) will meet Glendale (5-0 in league) with first place on the line at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pasadena City College. Glendale and Hoover are ranked seventh and ninth, respectively, in the latest CIF Southern Section Division V poll.
Kaplanyan and Co. had other things on their minds, such as turning aside Arcadia (2-3 in league). Hoover scored seven goals in the first quarter, capped by a Kaplanyan goal as time expired.
"We've been building toward accomplishing goals the whole season," Hoover first-year Coach Kevin Witt said. "We've taken care of what we've needed to do so far and the most difficult part of the schedule starts next week.
"We've had some slow starts of late. I liked the way we came out [in the first quarter]."
Vahe Avalyan gave Hoover a 1-0 lead just 10 seconds into the match. Kaplanyan, the two-time reigning All-Area Boys' Water Polo Player of the Year, then scored three goals in less than two minutes to extend Hoover's lead to 4-0. Avalyan, Davityan and Kaplanyan then scored a goal apiece in the final 1:11 to complete the first-quarter surge.
The Tornadoes held an 11-3 halftime lead and a 16-3 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Hoover received a balanced scoring attack, as Avalyan, Davityan, David Pogosian, Todd Bazik, Arin Azarian and Thomas Bazikyan each finished with two goals. Hakop Baghumian contributed a goal for the Tornadoes, who got seven saves from goalkeeper Sevada Khodaverdi.
The Apaches received two goals apiece from Clifford Ly and Kevin Fry and one from Thomas Beckley.
Kaplanyan said he's anticipating a quality matchup against Glendale.
"We are going to need to play stronger and even harder against Glendale," Kaplanyan said. "We know who they are and what they are capable of doing.
"Both teams are very talented and skillful. It's going to come down to who wants it more. It will be good to play the game at PCC and the crowd will be crazy."
Witt, a former standout at Glendale, agreed.
"I'm really excited," Witt said. "Both teams play extremely well and we want to play a good defensive game.
"We are not so much concerned with what they do, but rather how we play."