GLENDALE — Originally scheduled to begin play in the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs on Tuesday, the Glendale High boys’ water polo team found out on Monday that it would have to wait an extra two days to play its first match after being assigned a first-round bye by the CIF in a last-minute reshuffling of the playoff bracket.
The Nitros apparently felt they had waited long enough to get to work by the time Thursday’s second-round match against host Cajon began and wasted no time jumping all over the Cowboys early, building a seven-goal halftime lead en route to a 16-5 win at Arroyo Valley High.
Goalkeeper Haik Chatalyan led a strong defensive effort with 19 saves and Gor Asryan scored nine goals in just two quarters of play for Glendale (19-6), which will host Walnut in the quarterfinals on Saturday at a time and site yet to be determined.
“It feels great and we’re very confident, we’re hoping to win CIF, but we’re going to take it one game at a time,” Asryan said. “Watching [the Cowboys] warm up, we were kind of nervous, but as soon as we got our game plan together and got our heads in the game, we knew that we were stronger than them.”
Asryan scored five goals in the opening quarter, while the Nitros’ defense kept the Cowboys (21-7) off of the scoreboard.
“We tried to get the ball to Gor as much as we could,” Nitros first-year Coach Forrest Holbrook said. “He just proved to be unstoppable. They tried to double-team him, but he was just scoring with two guys on him.”
Glendale, which also got three tallies from Martin Narinyan, two from Eric Zadouri and one apiece from Cole Veloz and David Grigorian, led, 8-1, at halftime and gave the bulk of the second-half minutes to its reserves with the game already well in hand.
“We bring up some of our top [junior varsity] players and some of our freshmen, who are going to be proving to be valuable and we give them that chance to experience [the playoffs],” Holbrook said. “Four years down the line, those guys will be going to playoffs and it will be nothing new for them.”
Holbrook said he was able to procure a detailed scouting report on Cajon from a coaching colleague who had coached against the Cowboys earlier this season.
“We pretty much ran a press on their best shooter and made the rest of their outside shooters shoot,” said Holbrook, whose team placed third in the Pacific League. “We’ve got a great goalie.
“He’s outstanding and he’s really smart, he leads our defense. We run a press and let the guys who probably aren’t their best shooters shoot knowing that our goalie’s gonna block everything and that’s just what [Chatalyan] did tonight.”