Burbank High can look on the bright side and be happy it didn’t draw
either of the top two seeds for its opening match in the CIF Southern
Section Division I playoffs.
However, the Bulldogs didn’t avoid drawing a tough team in the
program’s first trip to the postseason.
For its first match, Burbank will have to travel to Rancho Santa
Margarita for a 3:15 p.m. contest Thursday against Santa Margarita,
which is seeded third.
“We knew we were going to get a tough draw. That’s what happens
when you finish third in your league,” Bulldog Coach John Abdou said.
“Orange County is a mecca when it comes to high school water polo,
and water polo in general. The teams out there are usually very good
and the players have been competing for a long time.”
Abdou is familiar with Orange County, having played collegiately
at UC Irvine.
Despite the apparent tough draw, Abdou said his team will relish
the opportunity to compete in the playoffs.
“I still have all intentions of caching them to win the game,”
Abdou said. “It is going to be a great experience for us and we are
going to try and make the best of it.
“You have to realize that this is the first taste of playoffs for
all of these girls. I want to go down there and represent Burbank. We
are going to try and show them that we can play good water polo here
Burbank (13-8, 6-4 in league) finished third in the Almost League
behind Montebello and Bell Gardens. Its only other losses came in
tournaments, along with a 6-5 nonleague defeat against Glendale.
In just its third year of existence, Burbank has improved this
season, after winning just five matches a year ago.
One of the reasons for the turnaround is the play of senior Brisa
Sandoval, who leads the team with 60 goals. Jessica Ullo has also
helped lead the charge, scoring 42 goals.
In goal, the Bulldogs have a confident player in Nadine Ishak, who
has tallied 167 blocks.
For Santa Margarita, it comes into the match as a power in the
Southern Section. The Eagles (18-8, 3-0) also won the Serra League
The Eagles have a lot of talent, and their eight losses have come
against Santa Ana Foothill (No. 1 in Division I), Newport Harbor (No.
2 in Division I) and Corona del Mar (No. 1 in Division II).
Three Santa Margarita players have signed to play at Division I
colleges -- Kacy Kunkel (UCLA), Erika Figge (USC) and Aimee
Stachowski (UC Santa Barbara). A fourth -- Sarah Hamilton -- is still
deciding where she wants to play.
“We can’t think about [Santa Margarita] too much,” Abdou said. “We
just have to go and play, and hopefully we’ll be able to compete.”