With a possible playoff berth hanging in the balance, the Burbank High boys’ water polo team took on Burroughs in the Pacific League finale for both teams Wednesday.
With the Indians entering the match winless in league and out of the postseason picture, it was the Bulldogs who had all the motivation in the crosstown rivalry contest.
Burbank weathered a comeback attempt by Burroughs in the third quarter and turned up its intensity in the fourth to earn a 16-7 victory at home.
With the win, the Bulldogs (15-4) ended the regular season in a three-way tie for fourth place with Pasadena and Arcadia, as all three squads finish with identical 2-4 league marks.
Burbank interim coach James Berman said there will be a coin flip, likely today, to determine which team will take fourth place and earn the final spot in the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Burroughs (13-14, 0-6) finished in last place.
“The win was important not just because it gets us a three-way tie, but it shows the commitment of the team,” Berman said. “I’m really proud of the way we won. It was a solid win.”
On the other side of the pool, Burroughs Coach Danny Garcia said he was not happy with the way his squad played. He thought the Indians came out flat and played uninspired throughout most of the contest.
“We were just lost on defense,” Garcia said. “And on offense, our shooters, were pressed and no one else wanted to take the ball and shoot. The team that wanted it more won today. This just isn’t the team that I saw for the whole season.”
Zach Card and Sam Akopian, who tallied five goals apiece, paced Burbank’s offense.
Card got his team off to a fine start by scoring the first three goals of the match to stake Burbank to a 3-0 lead with 4:18 left in the first quarter. The first might have been more lopsided had it not been for the play of Burroughs defender Oscar Hernandez, who had four steals in the stanza.
With a 3-1 lead after a quarter, Burbank kept up the pressure in the second and went into the half up 6-2.
Burroughs battled in the third quarter and looked to be making headway against the Bulldogs, who still had a four-goal cushion, 10-6, heading into the fourth.
“Going into the fourth quarter I talked to the guys like we were losing the game,” Berman said. “That’s how I wanted them to play, like we were behind. I know if we got too cocky that the game could change very quickly.”
Burbank clamped down in the fourth, outscoring its rival, 6-1.
Kevin Ueno and Casey Ueno scored two goals each for the Indians.
Burbank goalkeeper Derek Baer had 10 saves.