GLENDALE — Call it a lesson learned for the Hoover High boys’ soccer team.
Just after it scored a tying goal and a stalemate seemed all but certain, Hoover instantly became vulnerable.
PHOTOS: Hoover vs. Blair non-league boys' soccer
“We just learned a lesson,” said Hoover first-year Coach Basile Pagourtzis, who saw the Tornadoes tie the match on a penalty shot by Artin Almary in the 77th minute. “When you score a goal, it can be those next few minutes when you are most vulnerable to giving up a goal.
“It’s a good lesson to learn heading into the next game.”
Hoover (2-1) saw Blair (1-1) press for the winning goal seconds after Almary scored. Blair’s Jorge Cervantes drove deep into Hoover territory before shaking off a Hoover defender and making a nice short pass to Carlos Linares, who beat Hoover goalkeeper Emile Ohanyan with a low shot in the 78th minute.
The Tornadoes couldn’t generate a quality scoring chance in the final minutes.
“After we scored, we needed to stay calm,” said Almary, a former All-Pacific League selection. “We felt like had we been able to get one more counter-attack, then we’d have a chance to score again.
“It’s a good experience to learn from.”
Hoover, which didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season, had numerous scoring opportunities throughout the match. The Vikings received 10 saves from goalkeeper Damian Garcia to fend off the Tornadoes.
Blair opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Milton Rodriguez of Blair headed in a pass from Linares.
The Tornadoes had two good chances to score in the first half. Garcia stopped Avet Kurazyan inside the box in the eighth minute and then sprawled to turn back a shot by Jonathan Hernandez with less than a minute remaining.
Pagourtzis said the Tornadoes appeared sluggish throughout most of the first half.
“We came out flat and Blair fought more for the ball,” Pagourtzis said. “We had no energy.
“In the second half, we had a lot more chances to score.”
Almary had a 20-yard shot stopped by Garcia in the 60th minute, but gained a measure of revenge in the 77th minute. A Blair defender upended Kurazyan just inside the box, warranting a penalty shot.
Almary then beat Garcia with a low shot.
“I wanted to go inside the left corner with the shot,” Almary said.
Ohanyan, a standout tennis player at Hoover, finished with four saves.