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Jeff Tully Since its inception four years...

Jeff Tully

Since its inception four years ago, local girls’ water polo has

been dominated by Burroughs High.

Standout players like Ashley LaPorte, Julie Olson, Sarah Vejar and

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Erica Bonetti made the Indians’ program not only one of the best in

the Almont league, but one of the top in CIF Southern Section

Division III -- as the team made it to the divisional semifinals in

2000.

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However, as evidenced by Thursday’s 17-10 league cross-town

rivalry win by the Bulldogs at Burroughs High, the balance of power

has shifted, and now Burbank is the premier program in the city.

The victory earned the Bulldogs (12-8, 5-3 in league) a season

sweep against the Indians, who fell to the Bulldogs on Jan. 21, 14-4.

The sweep was a first for the Bulldogs, as was the victory last

month.

In less than two seasons, Burbank Coach John Abdou has sculpted a

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program that is not only winning, but is developing talented players

-- Brisa Sandoval, Evelyn Seteghian, Jessica Ullo, Catalina Casas and

Nadine Ishak.

Abdou said although the rivalry win was important, his team had

another reason to celebrate after downing Burroughs (4-12, 1-6).

“I think this win puts us in the playoffs,” he said. “That is a

big accomplishment for us.

“I don’t know if it will really sink in with the players that we

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are in the playoffs, until be play our first game. I don’t even know

if it will sink in for me until we hit the playoffs.”

The postseason accomplishment is big for Burbank, which won just

five matches last season. The five league victories is also a big

improvement, as the Bulldogs had two victories in 2002, both coming

on forfeits by Alhambra, which didn’t field a team.

“This season is a huge step for us as a program,” Abdou said. “We

want to build on this success and hopefully be known as a school that

has good water polo programs.”

With two Almont League matches remaining -- Tuesday at Bell

Gardens and Thursday at Alhambra -- Abdou said his team is not about

to rest on its current success.

“We want to go beat Bell Gardens at Bell Gardens,” he said. ‘We

have never done that and it would be great to get a win like that

against a quality program.”

For Burroughs, it will not qualify for the playoffs for the first

time. With a young squad that is still learning the finer points of

water polo, Coach David Cohen said the future should be bright for

the Indians.

“We are not even looking at wins and losses this season,” Cohen

said. “We are looking at how much we improve, how much the players

improve individually and how we progress as a team.

“When all of these freshmen and sophomores are seniors, we should

have a very good team.”

Burroughs’ improvement is evidenced by how much better it played

in the second match against Burbank. Not only did the Indians score

six more goals in Thursday’s rematch, but they also gave the Bulldogs

all they could handle for a half.

Trailing, 5-4, at the half, the Bulldogs tied the score at 6:07 of

the third quarter.

Indian goalkeeper Karina (eight saves) kept Burroughs in the

contest with some big saves.

“We were really impatient with our shots in the first two

quarters,” Abdou said. “We didn’t take a lot of very good shots.”

Burbank was led by Sandoval, who had a match-high five goals. Ullo

and Casas added three goals each, Seteghian and Christina Mendigochea

had two each and Becky Thomas and Megan Wilson had one each.

For Burroughs, Liz Seward had four goals, Bailey Porter had two

and Ligia Urena, Rebecca Anderson, Ashley Fitzgerald and Christine

Hyman had one each.


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