BURBANK — It started as a shootout, but over the course of Tuesday’s Pacific League championship tournament preliminary match between Glendale High and host Burbank, the Bulldogs just couldn’t match or contain the top-seeded Nitros’ firepower for long.
Led by 10 goals on the night from Armand Momdzhyan, Glendale used a run of six unanswered goals in the second quarter to pull away from fourth-seeded Burbank and lay the groundwork for a 25-11 win that set the stage for a championship showdown with archrival Hoover at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Burbank.
“We had the lead, but I still thought it was little bit of a slow start in the first quarter,” Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook said. “It was nice to see the boys come together and be able to push our offense in the second.”
After a frantic first seven minutes in which both teams combined for 13 goals, the Nitros, ranked fifth in CIF Southern Section Division 5, held a slim 8-5 lead thanks to a goal from Manuk Piloyan (four goals) inside the final 30 seconds. Burbank, which got out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Sean Savoy, also got tallies from Sam Akopian, Kevin Miller and Daniel Gonzalez in the first quarter to keep pace with a Nitros charge led by two goals apiece from Momdzhyan, Martin Chatalyan and David Papazian.
Akopian started the second quarter with another goal to pull Burbank back within two at the 6:36 mark, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t score again until there was just under a minute and a half left in the half.
“We stepped up our defense,” Momdzhyan said.
Shant Tokatyan started the Nitros’ run with a hooking lob at the 5:39 mark. Momdzhyan scored on an assist from Papazian on a counter-attack and Vahagn Gharagozyan scored on a sprint counter to make it 11-6 with 4:44 left. Momdzhyan would score twice more, with a Piloyan tally sandwiched in between, to put Glendale up, 14-7.
“I told them for the first half that we’re both the kinds of team that can pretty much score at will, scoring isn’t the hard part,” Burbank interim coach James Berman said. “The winner of this game was going to be the one that plays defense. Somewhere in the middle of the second quarter, we just stopped playing defense.”
Burbank stopped the run with a goal by Gonzalez (four goals) on a 6-5 advantage at the 1:25 mark, but Glendale kept lighting up the scoreboard with three more goals before the end of the half, including two straight by Momdzhyan in the final 33 seconds.
Glendale still led by 10 after the third quarter and put the match well out of the reach in the fourth, scoring the final four goals of the match.
Glendale beat Hoover, 15-7, on Wednesday in the Pacific League regular-season finale largely by limiting Hoover’s star utility Hakop Kaplanyan.
“It’s the same strategy,” Momdzhyan said, “keep Hakop to the minimum.”