Hoover High boys' water polo nabs first Pacific League win at Burroughs' expense

BURBANK — After a string of close losses to begin Pacific League play, Hoover High’s boys’ water polo team didn’t leave its Thursday tilt in doubt at the end.

Bolstered by a four-goal run and a span of 12 minutes 30 seconds in which they held host Burroughs scoreless, the Tornadoes picked up their first league victory, defeating the Indians, 11-5.

“It feels great,” said junior Hakop Kaplanyan, who had a team-high four goals. “Today, we worked as a team. We improved our defense and our offense.

“The last three games, we just didn’t play together.”

Hoover (3-11, 1-3 in league) opened up league with two-goal losses to Burbank, Crescenta Valley and Pasadena, the latter two being ranked in the CIF Southern Section Division V top 10.

On Thursday, though, the Tornadoes emerged from a contentious first quarter against the Indians (7-7, 1-2) and outscored Burroughs, 9-2, the rest of the way.

“I thought, actually, our first quarter was very poor. Our defense was very slow,” Hoover Coach Kevin Witt said. “Once we got our defense fixed and we made some adjustments, our offense started to come together, as well.”

It was much the opposite viewpoint for Burroughs Coach Mike Singhanate.

“It’s always difficult seeing the first quarter go pretty well, I thought it was pretty even, and after that we let our passing down, we allowed counters,” Singhanate said. “It was a lack of communication.”

The teams traded goals up until Hoover’s Aren Sukiasyan scored with 3:20 remaining in the first half to give the Tornadoes a 5-4 lead. The tally began a 4-0 Hoover run that essentially put the match to rest.

Burroughs’ scoreless drought wasn’t ended until the fourth quarter, when, already down, 8-4, the Indians climbed to within three when Oscar Hernandez (team-high four goals) scored on a five-meter shot with 6:33 to go.

But Hoover responded with goals by Kaplanyan, Harout Ashkharian (two goals) and Nick Ziccardi (two goals) to salt the match away. Hakop Baghumian added two goals for the Tornadoes, who also got eight saves from goalie Anthony Gevorkian, who turned in an excellent day.

A goal by Cesar Giombini with 1:53 to go in the opening quarter tied the score at 2 before teammate Hernandez gave Burroughs a 3-2 advantage with 58 seconds to play in the stanza. The first-quarter lead was the only advantage Burroughs enjoyed on the day, as Hoover scored six of the next seven goals.

“Probably the two biggest things [we need to improve on] are our communication and our passing,” Singhanate said. “Just overall communication in the water.”

For Hoover, it’s hoping to finally be hitting its stride.

“It feels good, we’re finally starting to pick up our training,” Witt said. “As each game goes on, we’re getting better than we were the game before.”

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