"The No. 1 defensive game plan was to shut down Hakop," said Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju, whose team marked Kaplanyan with All-Area standout Alan Dearman, but always dropped a double-team down when Kaplanyan gained possession. "[Kaplanyan's] a quality goal scorer and a great player."
Kaplanyan had five goals in last season's 15-9 loss to CV. But this time around, a David Pogossian goal off a Falcons deflection with 5:28 left in the opening period was all the offense Hoover (7-9, 3-1 in league) could muster against Crescenta Valley (13-4, 3-0), the No. 1-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division V.
"We were super happy," said Dearman of the defensive effort. "Hakop's an extremely good player, so to be able to hold him and his team to just one goal for the whole game, to be able to accomplish that as a team is amazing."
After the first period, though, it was still anybody's match with the Falcons holding a precarious 2-1 goal on the strength of a pair of Josh Chi assists to Jack Snyder and Robby Ruzicka.
While Hoover's defense was holding strong, CV's execution also lacked, as a Louis Wojciechowski shot was saved by Pogossian after the Falcons bypassed a slew of chances to take a shot on an exposed cage after Tornadoes goalie Sevada Khodaverdi drew an ejection. On the Falcons' ensuing possession, an easy lob by Snyder hit the crossbar.
"Their goalie was definitely aggressive and it paid off for them," said Sakonju of Khodaverdi, who had three saves and five steals in three periods. "He really threw off our counter-attack."
Nonetheless, the Falcons' offense eventually came around as did its counter.