Burroughs High girls' water polo keeps up pressure in 10-3 win over Hoover

BURBANK — If the Burroughs High girls’ water polo team wanted to put a positive stamp on their final regular season match in Pacific League play and keep its chances alive for another CIF postseason berth, it had to overcome a visiting Hoover squad that was still looking for an elusive league victory.

Burroughs took care of business against the Tornadoes, smothering them with defensive pressure en route to a 10-3 victory Thursday afternoon.

“We’ve been having issues all season about players letting up on pressure, but this game it stayed together pretty well,” Burroughs first-year coach Mike Singhanate said. “[Hoover] couldn’t really break through, or move or drive, so it seemed to work.”

The Indians (8-13, 3-3 in league) scored three while limiting Hoover to a single goal in the first, second and fourth quarters. Burroughs shut the Tornadoes out in the third quarter, winning that frame with a single goal scored by Cheyenne Morrison. Kailee Groveman led the way with a game-high four goals, including a hat trick in the fourth quarter.

“Overall, through the whole game, I think our defense was pretty good,” Groveman said. “Our offense picked up when we started running some of our plays.”

Throughout the contest, Hoover (2-10, 0-5) had trouble advancing the ball into the Indians’ side of the pool, struggling against a strong Burroughs press. This repeatedly led to shot-clock violations and quick transition offense for the home team.

“Looking at the shot clock and seeing how much time it has, just judging how much time it has,” Singhanate said of how his squad turned its defensive pressure into offense. “If it’s good to go, just start going back on offense. It definitely worked. I mean, our top row ended up leaving five seconds early every time. It worked out well.”

Indians junior Sofia Piedranita anchored the defense and keyed the offense, finishing with three goals. This included the first score of the contest, which came 46 seconds in on a quick mid-range shot that found the corner of the net.

“I think part of it has to do with my size, but also my strength as well,” Piedranita said of her success versus Hoover. “It’s my job being set; it’s what I’m good at, I guess. It’s what I’m meant to do.”

Hoover got the bulk of its offense from Maggie Amirian. The sophomore scored all three of her team’s goals on Thursday, including what may have been the goal of the game with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter. Amirian got the ball deep inside the five-meter area with a Burroughs defender draped all over her. She wriggled free just enough to fire off a backhanded shot past the goalkeeper to complete her hat trick.

Amirian put in her first goal to tie the contest at 1 with 5:44 left in the opening quarter. However, Burroughs’ Rosy Del Toro countered by scoring the next two goals, giving her team a 3-1 advantage with one quarter complete. The first came from close in after the senior rebounded a Groveman shot that hit the frame at the 5:17 mark. The second came with 1:44 left off a Groveman assist.

Groveman netted her first goal to open the scoring in the second period on a long shot from the center of the pool. Piedranita scored the next two, with both coming as a result of the Indians getting behind the Hoover back-line defense. Amirian made it 6-2 at half, when her shot went in after the horn sounded but the officials counted it because they ruled the clock had not stopped appropriately after whistles for fouls leading to the early horn.

Both teams combined for four unsuccessful five-meter penalty shots. Burroughs shot one wide at the end of the first quarter. Indians keeper Kate Wilke opened the second quarter by making a two-handed save on Hoover’s only try. Later in the period, Tornadoes keeper Jasmine Trinidad stopped the Indians’ next try, and the home squad’s third attempt, late in the third quarter, also went wide.

The Tornadoes will have a quick turnaround with a road game against nonleague opponent West on Friday, before getting one more regular-season chance to pick up a league victory when it faces Pasadena Wednesday.

“We have another game tomorrow and we have to come out aggressively, which we did not do today,” Hoover Coach Kevin Witt said. “The effort at the beginning of the game needs to improve.”

The Indians have one more nonleague opponent in South Pasadena before beginning play in the Pacific League tournament at Burbank, where they will be looking for a second crack at a couple of league opponents that beat them previously this season, though they are likely to open against first-place Crescenta Valley.

“I hope [we] come back against Arcadia, come back against Glendale,” Singhanate said. “I think those were close games that we could have potentially turned the tide.”

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