BURROUGHS HIGH — Most of the girls’ water polo players from Burroughs High and Burbank were well aware of the dominance the Bulldogs have had in their rivalry in recent years.
Heading into Tuesday’s Pacific League opener for both teams, the Indians hadn’t defeated their cross-town counterparts in a decade.
However, motivated by an early lead and sparked by a defense that held Burbank in check for most of the contest, the Indians were able erase 10 years of futility with a resounding 20-5 victory against the Bulldogs at Burroughs.
The match was scheduled to take place at Burbank, but a broken boiler at the Bulldogs’ pool prompted the move to Burroughs.
The Indians (13-2) definitely made the most of their opportunity in front of their home crowd.
“Being a senior, I had never beaten Burbank, and they have really killed us the past few years,” said Burroughs senior Sam Buliavac, who had five goals. “We knew it had been a long time since we’ve been able to beat them and we seniors didn’t want to lose to them our final season. …We were going to come out with a win no matter what.”
First-year Burbank Coach Evelyn Seteghian tried to shield her team from the fact that the Bulldogs (6-3) had a stranglehold on their rival for 10 years. However, the players found out nonetheless. The coach said having that knowledge might have produced negative results for her squad.
“I think they just put so much more added pressure on themselves,” Seteghian said. “They already had a lot on their shoulders with the rivalry and it being the opening league game. That pressure that they had to keep the 10-year streak going probably got to them because we just didn’t play that well at all.”
It was a swarming Indians defense, led by Daisy Hernandez, that caused fits for the Bulldogs throughout the contest. The defense helped set the stage for a sizable Burroughs push in the opening quarter.
The Indians connected on their first three shots to take a quick 3-0 start with 4:45 left in the first.
“That was big being able to take that early lead like that,” Burroughs Coach Danny Garcia said. “But it was really our defense that set everything up today. Our defense was just not letting Burbank take their usual shots.”
The Bulldogs did battle back in the first quarter, as consecutive goals by Gaby Rodriguez (three goals) and Natalie Pentkowski (two goals) on man-advantages lifted Burbank to within one, 3-2. But the Indians ended the quarter with two goals of their own to take a 5-2 advantage.
Burroughs began dominating the action in the second, outscoring Burbank, 4-1, to jump to a 9-3 lead at the half. The Indians increased their lead to 13-5 after three quarters and shut out Burbank in the fourth.
“In nonleague games when you have a lead you can back off somewhat,” Garcia said. “But in league you have to just keep going and keep scoring if you can.”
Burroughs was paced by Andrea Young, who tallied six goals. Savannah Simmons added four.
In goal, the Indians’ Ahasha Earwood made seven saves.