The opening 30 seconds of the second half proved pivotal for the teams, as Hoover senior midfielder and team captain Talin Kojababian intercepted a pass on the back line and rocketed a shot into the upper corner of the goal for the only score in the Tornadoes’ 1-0 win over the Nitros in the squads’ Pacific League and season finale.
The Nitros (4-12-3, 2-10-2 in league) were forced to send numbers up top in the second half, taking a risk with four forwards pressing high up the pitch.
In the end, Kojababian ruled the day with the stand-alone goal that decided the match in favor of Hoover (4-14-2, 4-8-2), which ended the season on a high note, having tied Crescenta Valley on Tuesday before defeating its archrival on Thursday.
The first half showcased spirited play by both sides at Moyse Stadium, with the Nitros spending the first five minutes on their heels, defending in their own end.
The teams battled back and forth and struggled to maintain possession, particularly in the midfield.
An errant pass by a Hoover defender near the midway point of the half led to an unchallenged shot on goal for Glendale senior forward Matilda Hoospian, but her shot sailed high over the crossbar.
Kojababian had a chance with 13 minutes to play in the half, but she was unable to redirect a corner kick on frame and her glancing header skewed out of play.
The pressure from Hoover paid dividends early in the second half when Kojababian found herself at the top of the box with a golden opportunity.
Her goal less than 30 seconds into the second half proved to be the game-winner.
“It’s unbelievable — and it’s not just because it’s our rivalry game,” Hoover Coach Ace Metallinos said. “It’s been quite a long time since Hoover has done this, to beat Glendale.
“To beat Glendale on their home field, as the home team — that’s spectacular.”
Both teams were energized by the goal, playing aggressively in the second half and staying active.
Glendale continued to push numbers forward, but its attempts were thwarted by the Tornadoes defense.
Free kicks taken by Emily Tharp and Hoospian forced the Tornadoes keeper to make a save, but the Nitros could not get any closer.
Glendale Coach Victor Aquino applauded his team for its persistence.
“The effort was there,” Aquino said. “It’s a rivalry game — they did their best and we did our best — it just came down to one simple mistake. It’s unfortunate, but that’s soccer.”
Said Metallinos: “I love the fact that this is going to be something to build on. A lot of the girls that are returning, they’re going to see that they can do this. The best they’ve done in the past is tying Glendale. Now they know that this is possible.”