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Getting a lot in return

Jeff Tully

The local girls’ water polo coaches realize the road to an Almont

League championship has to go through Montebello High.

As was the case in boys’ water polo this past season, when the


Oilers won a CIF Southern Section Division III title, Montebello

should have one of the top programs in Division I.

“I think Montebello will probably be picked as one of the better

teams in the CIF poll,” Burroughs Coach David Cohen said. “They have


to be the favorite in league this season.

“Over the past few seasons, Montebello has really been able to

build up their program. They will be the team to beat.”

Burbank Coach John Abdou agrees with Cohen’s assessment of the

Oilers. However, he is not ready to hand a league crown to Montebello

-- even if it is one of the top teams in Southern California.

“I think we have the talent to play with any team out there,

including Montebello,” Abdou said. “We are hoping that when league


time comes, we will be battling [Montebello] for a league title.”

Although Abdou has a lot of confidence in his squad, the coach

said he is still trying to convince the Bulldog players they are

worthy of his accolades.

“If these girls play up to their potential, we will be right up

there with the good teams,” he said.

“The girls just have to believe in themselves and believe they can

accomplish what they want to if they put their minds to it. The girls


just have to be willing to step up and take the challenge.”

Here is a look as how the season is shaping up for the Bulldogs

and Indians.


The Bulldogs return the majority of the team that went 13-9 and

6-4 for a third-place finish in league last season.

Burbank did lose first-team All-Area standout Brisa Sandoval

(school-record 60 goals last season) to graduation, and second-team

all-league selection Naeiri Barkhordian is not playing.

However, the Bulldogs should have enough firepower to go around.

Returning to help lead the offense is senior driver Jessica Ullo,

a first-team all-league player who tallied 42 goals a year ago.

Another reliable player who is back is senior driver Evelyn

Setaghian, who was a second-team all-league pick.

Abdou will also rely on junior drivers Amy Moran and Catalina

Casas, and junior defender Megan Wilson, to help out.

Burbank’s biggest predicament rests with senior goalkeeper Nadine

Ishak, a first-team all-league honoree who made 175 saves last

season. Ishak has been diagnosed with spinal meningitis and has been

sidelined for more the two months.

“Nadine just got clearance from her doctor to return to the

water,” Abdou said. “But it will take her a while to get back to

playing. We just want to give her time and not rush her back. We are

hoping to have her back for the start of league.”

While Ishak is getting back up to speed, senior Jenny Austin and

junior Tova Handelman will handle the goalkeeping duties.


Cohen returns his entire team that went 5-14, 2-8 a year ago.

“The same girls are back, but they are older, they have more

experience and they understand the game a lot more than they did last

year,” Cohen said.

The coach attributes the improvement to his Indians playing during

the off-season in tournaments and camps, and some playing with elite


With a more seasoned squad, Cohen thinks the Indians can do well

in league and contend for a playoff spot.

“With the exception of Montebello, the rest of the league is

really open,” he said.

Burroughs is led by sophomore two-meter player Liz Seward (40

goals), a first-team all-league pick.

Growing up around former Burroughs and UCLA great Alfonso Tucay,

Seward has been playing the sport for years.

Last summer, she took part in the Junior Olympics in Anaheim with

the Los Angeles Water Polo Club Team and she trained at North

Hollywood Harvard-Westlake High under Coach Rich Corso, a former U.S.

Olympic coach.

“Liz has improved so much from last season it’s scary,” Cohen

said. “Her skills have gotten so much better and she sees the game so

much more than when she was a freshman. She is going to be a force

for us.”

Also returning are senior drivers Valeria Dutra and Caitlin

Howison, who should give Burroughs more offensive options. Others who

should contribute are junior two-meter guard Rebecca Andreassen,

junior driver Christine Hyman, sophomore driver Bailey Porter and

sophomore goalkeeper Carly Delaplane.