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Loss leaves Nitros stunned, saddened

Mirjam Swanson

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE -- As losses go, this one stung a bit.

Or maybe more than a bit.

In a heartbreaker with dour implications, the always improving

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Glendale High girls’ water polo team played even with -- or better than

-- Muir for most of its Pacific League match at Glendale High on

Wednesday.

But that didn’t include overtime, which is why the Nitros suffered

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what might be a pivotal league loss, 9-7.

“We really needed this win,” Glendale Coach Pat Lancaster said. “I

believe we’re a better team than [Muir], so hopefully it’ll work out that

we can see them again [in the league tournament.]”

For Glendale to qualify for the tournament, it must win two league

matches. For that to happen, the Nitros (5-5, 0-2 in league) must beat

two of the following: Hoover, Pasadena or Crescenta Valley.

For those reading between the lines, that means the Jan. 24 match at

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Pasadena looms huge for Glendale.

Huge and doable for a Nitro group that was so pained by Wednesday’s

defeat.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Elina Vartanyan, who wiped away tears

despite having scored three goals in an effort to avoid another close

loss to Muir like the one Glendale had a season ago, 8-7.

“History repeats itself. But I like to say, there’s always next year.

We’ll keep working on it.”

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The match was close, much to the delight -- and, at times, frustration

-- of both teams’ family, friends and teachers in attendance.

Glendale fell behind early and rallied to take a 6-4 fourth-quarter

lead that lasted until Muir’s Rebecca Pratt and Metztli Montel snuck

shots by goalkeeper Sarineh Alexani.

And although the teams shared the advantage in regulation, the

Mustangs (7-7, 2-0) owned overtime.

They scored two quick goals in the first five-minute period and added

an insurance goal with 2:35 left in the second overtime.

"[Muir was] totally pumped up going into overtime,” Lancaster said.

“And we were flat.

“When we were up by two in the fourth quarter, I think we figured we

were going to win. So we were in shock that it even went to overtime.”

Offensively, there was improved shot clock utilization and constant

movement -- if not execution -- by the Nitros.

Glendale peppered Muir goalkeeper Lauren Donnelly-Crocker with shots,

forcing her to make 18 saves, including six on shots by senior Carla

Hale, who scored twice and had two assists.

Defensively, the Nitros produced their usual all-out effective effort.

Put together, the Nitros, realizing the importance of the match,

played as hard and smartly as they have this season.

Which is why the loss hurt so much.

“It was just -- I can’t believe it,” said sophomore driver Michelle

Garcia, her eyes also red. “I’m not sure what went wrong. We got up and I

didn’t think we could get back down.

“I’m just lost right now. Just really confused.”

BOX SCORE

Muir*2*1*1*2*2*1*--*9

Glendale*0*2*3*1**0*1*--*7

MUIR -- Harrison 3 goals, 3 steals, Montel 2 and 3 assists, Pratt 2,

Bell 1, Donnelly-crocker 4 steals.

Saves: Donnelly-Crocker 18.

GLENDALE -- Vartanyan 3 goals, Hale 2, Kadymyan 1 and 4 steals,

Yousefian 1, Garcia 4 steals.

Saves: Jacobs 1, Alexani 8.


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