WHITTIER — In the early stages of the CIF Southern Section Division V girls’ water polo quarterfinal between Burroughs High and California, the Indians were able to get shots off against the No. 2-seed Condors, even though many rattled off the cage.
As the game went on, it proved harder and harder for the Indians to break the Condors’ pressure, which exploited Burroughs turnovers on the counter-attack.
Burroughs was held scoreless in the second half, as California went on to win, 8-1, at Whittier High on Saturday.
“They are a very physical team and they got to us,” Burroughs coach Jacob Cook said. “That’s the biggest thing. We’re proud of them. They had a good season overall. This was a tough game. I’m proud of them. That’s all we can ask from them.
“Their team tight pressure against us. It’s hard to do much.”
Burroughs (19-8; the Pacific League runner-up) had early opportunities in the first quarter that were thwarted by California goalkeeper Leslie Meza, who finished with 11 saves.
The Indians conceded their first goal two minutes into the match on a tally from freshman Myah Ibarra. California (23-8; Del Rio League runner-up) doubled its lead with 1:16 left in the quarter, courtesy of a goal from senior Alyssa Flores.
In that span, Burroughs saw three of its five shot attempts bounce off the post. The Indians finally got on the scoreboard with 4:47 left in the second quarter thanks to a goal by sophomore Clarissa Robles.
The Condors immediately responded with a goal from sophomore Jimena Vargas 14 seconds later to restore their two-goal lead at 3-1.
With 2:50 left in the half, California junior Victoria Padilla broke away on the counter-attack to give the Condors a 4-1 advantage to close out the half.
“Defense is what wins games and then the offense will come as the game progresses,” said California coach Davey Brown, whose team reached a division semifinal round for the first time in program history. “My girls are really strong and they just focus on defense and shutting them down.
“All my girls committed to each other and we tried not to focus on our best player [Padilla]. When they started dropping off her, that’s when other players came into to game shooting from the outside or driving and moving so that they’re not looking for her.”
Despite the three-goal lead, Burroughs goalkeeper Ema Nathan made a pair of big saves in the final moments of the second quarter to keep it at 4-1. The senior, who is headed to the University of Pacific, finished with 11 saves — seven in the first half.
Padilla scored all three goals in the third quarter to give California a 7-1 at the end of the quarter. The senior scored twice off the counter-attack and once on a five-meter shot.
In the meantime, the Indians’ attempts to cash in on the other end of the pool were stopped by the Condor defense and Meza, who recorded four saves in the quarter.
“We were trying to run drives the whole time, it just wasn’t working in our favor,” Robles said. “I feel like our passing was a little off today. We worked on it a little on Friday, but I just feel like they were pressing a little too hard. Harder than we’re used to.
A five-meter goal from Ibarra gave California an 8-1 lead with 4:47 left.