Hoover (17-6) advanced to tonight's match with a 16-15 upset quarterfinal win against second-seeded Palm Desert in overtime on Saturday and will participate in the semifinals for the first time in the program's history. Third-seeded Pasadena Poly (25-2), which competed in the championship match last season and lost to La Serna, returned to the semis after registering a 12-8 overtime quarterfinal road victory against Palm Springs on Saturday.
"We have guys who have been playing their best water polo at the end of the year," said Hoover first-year Coach Kevin Witt, whose team finished second in the Pacific League. "They are very confident and have settled into their roles very well.
"We don't know much about Poly, but we know they have a good team. Everything is difficult when you get this far. Poly has year-round [players], so you know they are well-conditioned and well-prepared. We have to be equally prepared."
Hoover and Pasadena Poly met in the playoffs last season, as Pasadena Poly earned a 14-8 first-round home win.
The Panthers, who won the Prep League championship before recording a 15-6 opening-round win against Los Altos, used their experience to overcome a 4-0 first-quarter deficit against Palm Springs before prevailing in overtime.
"We stayed composed being down, 4-0," said Pasadena Poly Coach Ryan Katsuyama, who received a team-high five goals from Henry Pray to topple Palm Springs. "We knew that there was a lot of time left.
"Experience played a big factor because when you are down, 4-0, on the road, you probably are going to have teams panic. We have a mature team and we preach patience."
Hoover has received two clutch performances from senior utility player Hakop Kaplanyan, the reigning All-Area Boys' Water Polo Player of the Year, to extend its season.