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No. 2 St. Francis water polo holds off Burroughs in CIF quarterfinals

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St. Francis High goalkeeper Cole Marston makes a save in CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal match against Burroughs at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Cole Marston expected one more flurry, not two, in the final moment of the fourth quarter.

The St. Francis High water polo goalkeeper had to be ready for any given situation that might occur with the Golden Knights protecting a one-goal lead against Burroughs.

Marston finished with 15 saves, including one in the final 30 seconds, to help propel second-seeded St. Francis to a 9-8 home win against the Indians in a CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal match Saturday at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High.

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St. Francis High School water polo player Robert Alietti takes a shot on goal under pressure in CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal match vs. Burroughs High School at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks on Saturday, Nov, 9, 2019. St. Francis won the match 9-8.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

St. Francis (30-3), the No. 2 seed, will travel to face No. 3 Trabuco Hills (21-7) in a semifinal contest Wednesday. , Trabuco Hills posted a 20-13 quarterfinal win against Temecula Valley on Saturday.

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With the Golden Knights clinging to a one-goal lead, Marston, a senior, stopped a shot by Xavier Turla with 29 seconds to go. St. Francis, which finished fourth in the Mission League and received an at-large berth, couldn’t convert on its ensuing possession, giving the Indians a final attempt to tie the score.

Burroughs (14-9) had a final chance with five seconds left, but couldn’t get off a shot.

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Burroughs High School water polo player Matthew Mucha leans back to take a shot on goal under pressure in CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal match vs. St. Francis High School at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks on Saturday, Nov, 9, 2019. St. Francis won the match 9-8.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

“You never know what’s going to happen there,” Marston said. “I was ready to make that stop [with 29 seconds left] and I saw it all the way. With five seconds left, it’s hard to get off a shot.

“It was a real good match and we have a few real good shooters who know how to get it done.”

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Said Burroughs coach Jacob Cook, who led the Indians to a Division V championship in 2016: “We gave ourselves a couple of chances at the end, but it just didn’t go our way. We got off that shot with 29 seconds left. In the last five seconds, it’s pretty tough to get off a shot.”

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Burroughs High School water polo goalie David Karagezyan stops a 5-meter shot by Jason Alietti in CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal match vs. St. Francis High School at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks on Saturday, Nov, 9, 2019. St. Francis won the match 9-8.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

St. Francis, which defeated Cathedral and Buena Park in earlier playoff matches and averaged 19.5 goals in the wins, took a 9-6 lead on a goal by Robert Alieti (five goals) with 6:26 left in the fourth quarter.

Burroughs, which took fourth in the Pacific League before topping Valley View and Marina in the first two rounds of the playoffs, closed to within 9-7 on a goal by Turla (three goals) with 4:44 to go before teammate Vahagan Sahakyan (three goals) scored on a two-man advantage with 1:44 to play to make it 9-8.

“It was hard to get the ball in the cage today and give Burroughs credit,” said St. Francis coach Carlos Ponce, a former Burroughs coach. “It turned out to be a great match and Cole came up big at the end. He’s been like that all season and he’s our quarterback.

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Burroughs High School water polo player Vahagan Sahakyan finds himself surrounded in CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal match vs. St. Francis High School at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks on Saturday, Nov, 9, 2019. St. Francis won the match 9-8.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

“It will be exciting to go to the semifinals. We’re not satisfied. We’ll take that trip and have fun.”

The Golden Knights enjoyed a 3-1 advantage after the first quarter before holding a 6-4 lead at halftime. St. Francis, making its first playoff appearance since bringing back the program in 2015, held an 8-6 lead after the third quarter.

The Indians overcame a 6-4 deficit midway in the third quarter on one goal each by Turla and Tobey Ho to knot the score at 6. The Golden Knights then received one goal apiece less than a minute apart from Jason Alietti and Robert Alietti to restore the lead to 8-6.

St. Francis also got two goals from Jason Alietti and one each from Jack Wilson and Jared Sin.

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St. Francis High School water polo player Robert Alietti gets away from the defense and scores in CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal match vs. Burroughs High School at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks on Saturday, Nov, 9, 2019. St. Francis won the match 9-8.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
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Burroughs received one goal apiece from Ryan Jaramillo and Ho and eight saves from goalkeeper David Karagezyan.

“We came in and played a very good game,” Cook said. “We ignored St. Francis’ record and played the way we have. This was my favorite team to coach.”

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Burroughs High School water polo player VCahagan Sahakyan finds himself surrounded in CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal match vs. St. Francis High School at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks on Saturday, Nov, 9, 2019. St. Francis won the match 9-8.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

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