The Falcons Find their Way to Beat Hoover


On Friday, the Falcons, looking to extend their two-game winning streak over Arcadia and Burbank, squeaked out a victory over Hoover (0-3-1 league) 1-0.

The Falcons played aggressively from the start of the match, controlling the tempo. Early on midfielder Alex Berger’s shot from outside the penalty box struck to the left side of Hoover’s goalkeeper as he dived to save the ball. Hoover was tested again when Vahe Nalbandian shot to the same side and from the same spot as Berger, but once again the Tornadoes thwarted CV’s attempt. Undeterred, the Falcons maintained their relentless offense.

Midfielder Nalbandian played a lob to Pavle Atanackovic whose weak header ventured over the post.

On a corner kick, Nalbandian attempted a “banana ball,” kicking the ball in a way that swerves right into the goal, however it landed into the goalkeeper’s waiting hands.

Nalbandian kept up the offense coordinating another opportunity with he, Atanackovic and Berger but the shot was saved again by the Hoover.

Coach McClung was patient, urging his team on. “It’s gonna come,” he told them.

In another missed opportunity, Nalbandian played a cross pass to Atanackovic that beat the goalkeeper and the defender guarding him; however he couldn’t reach to tip in the ball into the net.

Eventually, the Falcons were able to get over the hump and score.

Just before the point, McClung made a tactical change, letting Nalbandian play right midfield instead of center. Nalbandian played a long pass inside the penalty to Atanackovic who towered above two defenders for a header to the left side of the goalkeeper. CV’s assistant coach Chris Ortiz raised his fist, shouting, “Vahe el- Grando!”

Coach McClung adjusted his strategy, changing the team formation from 4-3-3 to 4-2-2 hoping that the change would prove to be a better match of Nalbandian to Hoover’s players. Fortunately it paid off as he assisted the only goal in the match.

The Falcons defense allowed for Hoover to have only one
shot on goal as the Falcons went into halftime with a one goal lead.

In the second half, the Falcons kept their aggressive attitude, unlike their last match when their offensive output was sluggish.

McClung continued being supportive. “Just be patient,” he told his team. “If we have opportunities, take the ball in the (penalty) box.”

Despite that support another goal was not to be had CV. Forward Atanackovic dribbled past the player guarding him; however his shot struck wide to the right side of the goalkeeper. On another possession, Nalbandian’s free kick was punched out by Hoover.

Even with the Falcons’ aggressiveness, Hoover managed some attacks to level the contest. Midfielder Lopez played a lob to one the forward players whose header struck wide to the left side of Nick Ruiz. On another possession, Hoover’s Lopez almost scored as he got ball out of scramble after a corner kick that beat the goalkeeper; however he reacted late as his shot struck the net from outside.

Head coach McClung said the key to the win was the toughness of the team and their defensive effort.

“Hoover did a good job pressuring us defensively,” McClung said. He added that Hoover came out aggressive in the second half but the Falcons managed to match the effort of their opponent.

Overall, he feels great about the team. “I give credit to our guys for getting three points [on the road]. Defensively it’s night and day from the beginning of the season. Offensively we’re starting to click … playing positive soccer.”