Hoover (16-13, 4-3 in league) jumped out to a 2-0 lead only to see Glendale, which will now face Crescenta Valley in the tournament final on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. at Burbank, roar back for a 3-2 advantage before the Tornadoes, buoyed by All-Area standout Hakop Kaplanyan’s match-high, seven-goal effort, took what appeared to be a commanding 9-4 halftime.
“I don’t feel like we have any match won against Glendale until we beat them,” said Hoover Coach Ara Oganesyan, whose team will play Pasadena in a third-place match on Thursday at 4:15 p.m. “It was a match we could have won.”
From the perspective of the Nitros (6-1 in league), it was a match they entered with a false sense of confidence.
“Last week, we had a fairly easy match against them,” said Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook in reference to Wednesday’s 18-11 win against the Tornadoes in the regular season finale. “We came out extremely over confident.
“We just didn’t come out playing good water polo.”
But in the second half, the Nitros certainly did, outscoring the Tornadoes by an eye-popping 9-2 margin, including a 4-0 fourth-quarter shutout.
“We got together [and talked and said], that’s it, we’re not gonna let them score, we’re gonna play our game,” said Narinyan, who had a team-best six goals, but was one of six Nitros to score in the second half.
In contrast, the Tornadoes played anything but their game in the second half.
“I think it mostly has to do with nerves,” Oganesyan said. “We threw the first blow and we got a nice shot in and then our guys somehow had this idea that Glendale was gonna roll over.”
That first blow saw Davo Pogosian and Vahe Avalyan score goals 36 seconds apart to give Hoover a 2-0 lead early in the first period.