GLENDALE — Burroughs High found itself on top of the Pacific League boys' soccer standings after one round of play thanks to its ability to gain definitive results.
The Indians had lost two games, one more than second-place Crescenta Valley, but had also won five games, one more than the twice-tied Falcons, giving them a one-point lead going into the second half, which started Tuesday afternoon.
"We needed to come out with a good result today," Burroughs Coach Michael Kodama said. "It's very important to start off the second half of the league that way."
For Burroughs, round two started at Toll Middle School against host Hoover, which sat at the bottom of the standings. Once again, the Indians got the definitive result they needed to stay on top by winning, 4-2, against a determined Tornadoes squad, which twice tied the contest before falling.
"I told the guys, if we're close, Burroughs is in first, so just keep on going. We have nothing to lose," Hoover Coach Kevin Cadenas said.
Burroughs (9-5-2, 6-2 in league) got the eventual game-winning goal in the 63rd minute from junior Milosh Petko, who had previously scored both goals in the Indians' 2-1 win over Hoover earlier this season. Indian Brandon Gerlach used his potent throw-in to send the ball deep into the box to the head of Manny Celio, who lightly flicked it on to Petko, who then finished with a shot into the back of the far post netting to break a 2-2 tie.
"Brandon has a great throw," Petko said. "It's one of the biggest weapons on the team probably, because we've scored so many goals off of it."
Gerlach later added some insurance on a free kick just outside the box that found its way through the Hoover wall for a goal in the waning moments of the contest.
"We've been working on our set-pieces," Kodama said. "We've been working on our patterns of play up front trying to create more openings. We got our openings. We got our chances and we finally had a chance to finish some of those."
Hoover (2-6-3, 1-5-2) fought back in both the first and second halves to tie the game on goals by Artin Almary. In the game's 13th minute, Argin Haghoubian, who had scored all three of his team's goals in their previous two matches, dribbled the ball with speed down the side of the field before cutting in and laying in a pass to the feet of Almary, who made a delayed run down the middle of the field to get open and finish.
"My forward, he had it, he ran it down the whole line, so I just saw an opening in the middle," Almary said. "I broke away from the other side of the field and [then] just the easy finish in front of the goal."
Almary also knotted the game up at two in the second half. Hoover was awarded a penalty kick in minute 49, when Indians goalkeeper Elliot Whitecotton was called for a push in the box. The senior had punched down a ball down to the grass and, as more bodies arrived, was called for a push going to get it as a Hoover player went down. Almary struck the penalty kick low to the right of Whitecotton, who got a hand on it but could not stop it from going into the net.
"I was happy with the way we played," Cadenas said. "I think second half was a good half. It was a good game overall. I would say it was one of our better games."
However, after the Tornadoes penalty kick, the Burroughs defense held up and Hoover did not get another clean scoring opportunity.
"I think Michael Conrad, [our] center defender in back, is outstanding," Kodama said, "not just because he wins the ball, but because he distributes really well."
Burroughs got on the board first on a successful penalty kick by Jorman Herrera. In the game's 14th minute, Celio broke through the last of the Hoover back line on the right side as the Indians quickly threatened on the counter-attack after a failed Hoover set-piece. Tornadoes sweeper Chris Cerritos trailed him and went for the ball but got the body, drawing the penalty kick that Herrera converted on a low shot that skipped by the goalkeeper on his left.
Seven minutes after Almary's first goal had tied the game at 1, Burroughs took the lead back on a goal from Brian Arzate. Indian Xavi Izqueta used his head to flick a pass in the air down the middle of the pitch over a defender to the feet of Arzate. The senior settled the ball in traffic, eluded goalkeeper Duren Bedrousian, who dived to the ground in an effort to stop him, and finished the play with a shot into the back of the net.
Burroughs' next Pacific challenge will be a home match against Glendale on Friday, as the Indians look to maintain their slim league lead.
"I hope we win the league," Conrad said. "We're playing really well. We just need to stay focused and keep our eye on the prize."