Twice the heroics for Hoover's Hakop Kaplanyan

The top-10 individual performances by an athlete in a team setting from the 2011-12 season were voted on by the Glendale News-Press sports department.

1 Hakop Kaplanyan dries up Palm Desert, Nov. 12, 2011 — Once the Hoover High boys' water polo team received a last-second reprieve on the end of its season, its senior leader didn't let it go to waste.

Kaplanyan scored a game-tying goal to complete a comeback from down five goals and send the Tornadoes' CIF Southern Section Division IV quarterfinal match against Palm Desert at Burbank High to overtime moments after a timekeeping error resulted in a replay of the final 30 seconds.

"I didn't want to believe it," Kaplanyan said of the moments prior to the reset when it appeared Palm Desert had successfully run out the clock to win the game. "The reality was it kind of seemed like we lost, but I just couldn't let myself believe that. I wanted to change that.

"I just told my team they gave us another chance and this is where we take it. We were just looking at our opponents' faces and all they seemed was afraid."

Then in overtime, Kaplanyan made sure Hoover's season would extend to a best-ever semifinal appearance when he buried three more goals to run his total to 10, including a goal from halfway across the pool with tenths of a second left to deliver a 16-15 win and a place in Hoover history.

"It was crazy," Kaplanyan said. "We went to quarterfinals [my sophomore] year and I said to myself I'm not going out in the quarterfinals, I need to get to the semifinals. [Regulation] last minute, overtime last minute, I'm just there for my team every time."

2 Pavle Atanackovic's hat trick paces CIF win, Feb. 16, 2012 — The Crescenta Valley boys' soccer team won its first-ever CIF championship in March, but the Falcons' playoff run never would have gotten off the ground if not for the heroics of Atanackovic in a 3-2 Division IV first-round road win over Laguna Beach.

The Falcons trailed, 2-0, going into the second half, where the All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year scored twice on headers in the 49th and 53rd minutes to knot the match and force overtime.

Three minutes into the sudden-death extra period, Atanackovic got around a Laguna Beach defender on a set piece and headed a 40-yard free kick in to complete the comeback and save the Falcons' season.

"Both of my legs were cramping and we had to do something," Atanackovic said. "It's just about being out there on adrenaline and doing what you can to help the team win."

3 Breeana Koemans keeps Tologs together, Feb. 10, 2012 — Competing in the Mission League is difficult enough, but with eight starters sidelined, the deck was really stacked against the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team when it took on archrival Harvard-Westlake on senior night.

Koemans, however, did her best to even the playing field. Her two goals salvaged a 2-2 tie with the eventual league-champion Wolverines.

Koemans' first score came on a second-half free kick to tie the match at 1, but her second tally of the night came just moments later on a jaw-dropping, 35-yard free kick that cleared the Wolverines' defensive wall and curved in past the diving goalkeeper to once again tie the game.

"I just saw the greatest single goal I've ever seen," veteran Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace said of the free kick.

4 Hannah Cookson's monster day on the diamond, April 19, 2012 — In leading the Crescenta Valley softball team to a come-from-behind home Pacific League win over archrival Arcadia, Cookson packed a good month's worth of run production into one devastating inning.

Most of the Falcons center fielder's three-for-three performance that included 10 runs batted in, three runs scored and 11 total bases came in Crescenta Valley's 12-run third inning, where Cookson blasted not one, but a pair of grand slams.

"It feels great, I think we did good," Cookson said. "I just tried to hit because usually when I think about hitting home runs, I don't."

Cookson first made it 11-4 with a blast to left-center field before the Falcons got a rally cooking all over again to bring Cookson up with the bases loaded for the second time. This time, she drove one to deep right field to push the lead to 17-4.

5 Christian Misi buzzer-beater buries Bulldogs, Feb. 3, 2012 — Things have rarely gone the Crescenta Valley High boys' basketball team's way over the years when facing off with perennial Pacific League-champion Pasadena.

The Falcons senior center put an end to seasons of frustration with one sweet shot to deliver a 61-60 win, the team's first in coach Shawn Zargarian's seven-year tenure, in front of a rabid home crowd.

With just six seconds remaining and his team down by two, Misi went for the win, and got it with a three-pointer, his third of the game among his team-high 19 points.

"When I got the shot off, I didn't know if I would be excited or I would brick the shot," Misi said. "When it left my hands, I knew it would be close. It's the biggest shot I've made [at Crescenta Valley]."

6 Alex Berger does it all in CIF clincher, March 3, 2012 — Throughout the season, Berger was a reliable source of both goals and assists for the Crescenta Valley boys' soccer team and he came through once again in the biggest game of the season, a 3-0 win over El Rancho in the Division IV championship game at Warren High.

Berger got the Falcons out to an early lead by scoring off a steal that led to a 40-yard shot off the crossbar and over the goalline.

Four minutes later, Berger found Eric Keshishian with a well-placed corner kick for a backward flick for a 2-0 lead that would be more than enough.

7 Kyle Murray shuts out Apaches in title tilt, May 11, 2012 — It had been seven straight games, since the Crescenta Valley baseball team had beaten archrival Arcadia, but in the regular-season finale between the two teams, seven turned out to be a magic number for the Falcons.

Crescenta Valley's righty ace shut down the Apaches over seven innings to record a two-hit, 7-0, shutout and clinch the outright Pacific League title for the Falcons for the first time since 2008.

It feels great," Murray said. "We've been waiting a long time for this."

Murray was dominant in striking out nine, including five over the last three innings before fanning the final batter he faced. The only two hits he allowed were infield singles.

8 Ruiz saves Falcons' season in playoffs, Feb. 23, 2012 — Throughout the season, the Crescenta Valley boys' soccer team counted on its senior keeper to keep balls out of the goal, but one of Ruiz' biggest highlights of the year involved putting one in against host Salesian in the quarterfinals of the Division IV playoffs.

Trailing, 2-1, late in the second half, Falcons Coach Grant Clark moved Ruiz out of goal and up the field with a minute left in stoppage time as CV pushed for a game-tying tally.

After multiple deflections off a throw-in, Ruiz, who also made 10 saves in the match, got control of the ball and buried a shot from 15 yards out to set up the game-winner in overtime moments later.

9 Kaplanyan cracks Walnut at the buzzer, Nov. 9, 2011 — Lackluster play in the second half nearly cost the Tornadoes a Division IV first-round playoff win at Mount San Antonio College, but Kaplanyan made sure Hoover would move on.

Hoover carried a three-goal lead into the fourth period, but saw it evaporate into a 13-13 tie with 1:27 to play. Kaplanyan saved Hoover with a difficult shot from nearly halfway across the pool between the outstretched arms of two defenders for the game-winner at the buzzer. It was the eighth goal of the match for Kaplanyan.

10 Alex Yoon battles for the Victory Bell, Nov. 10, 2011 — An ankle injury would sideline most players, but it couldn't even slow down Yoon, the Glendale High senior running back, in the "Battle for the Victory Bell" at Moyse Field.

The senior back racked up 285 yards and three touchdowns — on runs of 13, 32 and 44 yards — in 28 carries to end his high school football career on a high note. Yoon put the pain aside to do so, as the same injury forced him to sit out a game two weeks earlier.

It helped the Nitros survive a late Tornadoes push for a 55-49 victory over their cross-town and Pacific League rival in the season finale.

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