"It was something new to me and I knew it would be exciting and challenging," Veloz said after teammate David Grigorian scored two man-advantage goals in the second three-minute overtime session to help visiting Glendale pick up a key 13-12 Pacific League win against cross-town rival Hoover in front of a packed house. "It was extremely tiring, but worth it.
"It's pretty surreal because he's one of the best players in the country. I'm pleased that we won this game because it was real intense."
Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook, whose team improved to 5-1 in league, made the change with Hoover clinging to a 4-2 lead with three minutes left in the second quarter. Hakopyan, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year, had earlier muscled his way past several Glendale athletes to spur the Tornadoes (10-16, 4-2 in league) with three of his team-best six goals. Then the 30-second shot clock malfunctioned, leading to a 15-minute delay and an opportunity for Holbrook to put a new strategy in place in an attempt to revitalize his squad.
"From club water polo teams to high school teams, they all agree Hakop is the most dominant player," Holbrook said Holbrook. "We started out planning to double-team him, but Hoover's outside shooters lit us up.
"So, we had Cole go in there to shadow and try to contain Hakop. Hakop scored only one goal in one-on-one situations and that was the game. That's the reason why we won."
It also helped that Glendale, ranked No. 8 in CIF Southern Section Division V, received a tying goal from Martin Narinyan with eight seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
"You never know what to expect," said Hoover Coach Ara Oganesyan, whose team will face Glendale again in a league tournament semifinal match Tuesday at Burbank High. "We had an idea that they might play Hakop straight up.
"You have to give credit to Martin Narinyan. He's really the soul of that team and he kept them together."