ARCADIA — The frigid water at the Arcadia High pool was filled with anxiety Thursday.
With a little less than four minutes left in the a Pacific League girls’ water polo match, Burroughs senior Aleah Orozco scored the go-ahead goal that would seal her hat-trick against Arcadia.
But with the lead, the Indians had to stay composed for the final three frantic minutes that saw both sides hit goalposts.
Arcadia also had a two-on-one scoring opportunity with 16 seconds left in the match, but Indians junior goalkeeper Ema Nathan made a crucial save to preserve Burroughs’ lead as the visitors hung on for a 5-4 win.
“I just felt really accomplished because at that moment, it’s really dependent on the goalie, a one-on-one pretty much, so I was really happy and proud that I made it,” Nathan said.
The Apaches had possession with 30 seconds left and shed 14 seconds off the clock to set up Christine Chua for a possible game-tying goal. The shot went straight to the Indians goalkeeper, who made the save.
“When they kept calling timeout, I was getting very anxious,” said Nathan, who recorded 11 saves, four in the fourth quarter. “I was actually really nervous and I was scared it was going to go into overtime. But we got pretty lucky with it bouncing off the post and not into the goal, thank God.”
Orozco’s game-winning goal with 3:45 left off of a pass down the middle from Brianna Meneses (three assists) completed the hat trick.
“It was really stressful for me at that time because it was a really close game and I think the fact that it was close really fueled us,” Orozco said. “We said we only had a couple more minutes, so we might as well give it our all. That’s the mentality that we went in with.
“The fact that it’s a league game is really important and Arcadia has always been a tough opponent for us, so we knew it was going to be a close game, so if we gave it our all we could win the game.”
The Apaches nearly tied the score with 2:03 left as Cary Gamez saw her shot ricochet off the Indians’ goalpost only to land near Nathan.
Burroughs (7-7, 4-1 in league) nearly made it a two-goal lead 30 seconds later, but Jaelyn Bijasa’s shot also bounced off the post.
“I thought the game was great,” Burroughs coach Jacob Cook said. “We played hard and we’ve been improving every game since we started league. We’re 4-1 in league now and we knew Arcadia was going [to be tough].
“Like I said before the match, we’re pretty evenly matched with them and we knew we had to come out hard. We made some little adjustments as the game went on and we just put them in when we needed to, made the stops we needed to and got lucky on some of them.”
Arcadia struck first at 4:42 in the first quarter after Gamez picked off a rebounded shot from Apaches teammate Jessalyn Wang.
Despite taking the lead, the Apaches (12-12, 4-1) hit the post or the Indians intercepted passed inside the five-meter area for much of the second quarter.
Orozco tallied her first goal with an equalizer at 4:26 off Meneses’ first assist before Bijasa gave Burroughs the 2-1 lead with 2:33 left in the period.
Burroughs secured a two-goal lead with 1:42 left in the half as Meneses found Samantha Leano on the right wing. Leano scored the lone goal of the second quarter to give the Indians a 3-1 halftime lead.
The Apaches pulled one back early in the second half to cut the Burroughs lead to 3-2 on a goal from Kelsey Lam. Orozco then tallied her second goal at with 4:08 left in the third to restore the Indians’ two-goal lead, at4-2.