NORTHWEST GLENDALE — After beginning Pacific League play with shutout defeats, the Hoover High and Muir boys' soccer teams rediscovered their scoring ability Friday afternoon.
For Hoover's Artin Almary, it couldn't have come at a better time, as he made the most of his scoring opportunities in what proved to be a milestone match for the sophomore forward.
Almary recorded his first career hat trick and added one assist to lead host Hoover to a 6-3 league victory against Muir.
After suffering a 1-0 home league defeat against Burroughs on Tuesday, Almary and the Tornadoes (2-3, 1-1 in league) sought a different outcome by applying constant pressure against inexperienced Muir (1-3, 0-2).
"I didn't do well [against Burroughs], so I had to go out there and help lead the team," Almary said. "We felt like we had to win this game and we had to all step up.
"It's great to get the three goals, but it's more about everybody playing their position by attacking and defending."
Muir, which kicked off league Tuesday with a 2-0 loss against Arcadia, owned a pair of one-goal advantages Friday. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the leads didn't last long.
The Mustangs took a 1-0 lead in the third minute on a goal by Ruben Rivas that eluded Hoover goalkeeper Argin Haghoubian just inside the right post. Hoover knotted the match four minutes later when Carlos Oblea headed in a throw-in by Luis Lopez past Muir goalkeeper Francisco Zuleta-Diaz.
Muir's Jorge Castro made it 2-1 when his corner kick glanced off a Hoover defender and past Haghoubian in the 30th minute. However, Hoover's Pedro Ruiz blasted a shot off the inside of the left post to make it 2-2 a minute later.
In the 33rd minute, Almary gave Hoover a 3-2 lead on a goal that closely resembled Ruiz's. Hoover held a 3-2 halftime advantage.
"We had the two leads, but we are an inexperienced team," Muir Coach Mario Hernandez said. "Some of [Hoover's] goals came on effort.
"Scoring six goals isn't easy. Lucky or not, six goals is six goals. We are looking to make progress from game to game. Three goals for us is a plus. We have to be better organized on defense."
Almary gave the Tornadoes a 4-2 lead in the 58th minute and teammate Douglas Centeno extended the lead to 5-2 in the 60th minute.
Muir's Eduardo Gonzalez converted a penalty kick to bring the Mustangs to within 5-3 in the 68th minute.
Almary closed out the scoring in the 75th minute.
"Artin stepped up for us and it's important that we got the three points with the win," Hoover Coach Kevin Cadenas said. "He stepped it up for us and he's got that great vision.
"We expect it from him."