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
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
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
In less than two seasons, Burbank Coach John Abdou has sculpted a
program that is not only winning, but is developing talented players
-- Brisa Sandoval, Evelyn Seteghian, Jessica Ullo, Catalina Casas and
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
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
“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.