Burbank water polo sees lead, match slip away against Pasadena

BURBANK — If the Burbank High boys' water polo team learned anything following its recent home match against Pacific League rival Pasadena, it's that you can't rest on an early lead.

Burbank standout Dante Nazarian said that early overconfidence stoked by a 5-1 advantage led to substandard defense, allowing Pasadena to get back into the game.

"We became too sure that it was our game, and some of our players were slacking off on defense," Nazarian said.

Burbank blew an early four-goal lead in losing to Pasadena, 13-9, on Thursday.

With five minutes remaining in the second quarter, Nazarian scored his third goal to give his side a 5-1 advantage. From that point forward, Pasadena outscored its opponent, 12-4.

The fourth period was one to forget for Burbank. The home team clung to an 8-7 lead heading into the final frame, but Pasadena scored six unanswered goals en route to the victory.

"Our team's motivation was getting lower and lower toward the end," Nazarian said.

Nazarian led his team with three goals, all in the first half. He added three assists.

Shutting down the Burbank star was a major part of Pasadena's game plan.

"If I have to play six-on-five because I have two guys on Dante, I'll play six-on-five," said Pasadena Coach Neil Esser. "We tried to take him out of the game as much as possible and limit his touches."

Matthew Klein paced Pasadena with five goals.

While it was a focus of Burbank (9-9, 2-3 in league) to shut down Klein, Pasadena (14-6, 4-2) made adjustments to get him the ball. Burbank Coach Zeb Jenkins admitted he didn't make enough adjustments on his end.

"We had the game in our grasp," Jenkins said. "We had the game."

The last time these two sides faced each other was at a tournament the first week of the season. Burbank won that contest, 14-11.

Thursday's game started off uncharacteristically slow, with Burbank taking a 2-1 lead into the second period. Then the home team caught fire, scoring three underpowered goals in a span of two minutes. First Rob Mheryan scored off a Nazarian assist. Then Nazarian connected on back-to-back unassisted goals in an 18-second span to give the Bulldogs the 5-1 lead they'd soon relinquish.

Shant Piramzyan added three goals and Karo Salatyan scored twice for Burbank.

Pasadena's Edin Memisevic scored four goals, Ian Iverson had four assists and goalkeeper Kyle Radcliff notched 13 saves.

Burbank falls to 9-9 overall and 2-3 in Pacific League play. Pasadena improves to 14-6 and 4-2.

"What we can learn is to not get too confident," Nazarian said. "Until the last quarter, the last second, there's still a chance for the other team to win, so you have to play a 100 percent the whole game."

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