Bronze medal eludes Titans

LOS ANGELES — By the time the 2010 USA Water Polo Junior Olympics concluded on Tuesday afternoon, three Olimpiakan Reservner Water Polo squads had succeeded in making quite an impact across three age levels.

The Glendale-based youth water polo club's 16-and-under and 14-and-under squads each finished in the top-10 in the nation in their respective age groups, while the 12-and-under team reaped the most success with an appearance in the bronze-medal game on Tuesday at Manuel Contreras High in Los Angeles.

That prize would elude the Titans, however, in a 10-8 loss to SoCal, in which the kind of intensity the local team showed during a fourth-quarter rally could have made a difference in the first half when SoCal was building a substantial lead.

"I just didn't think we executed the game plan correctly," Titans co-Coach Sarkis Zargaryan said. "I don't know what it was, maybe the other team was just playing great defense."

SoCal was controlling both sides of the game in the first half, holding ORWP to one goal through the first 9:15 and taking an 8-3 advantage into halftime.

After chipping away at the lead slightly during the third quarter behind goals from Artak Arzumanyan and Shant Kurjikyan, the Titans trailed, 9-5, going into the fourth period, where they began to play their best stretch of polo.

Defense ruled the quarter, as neither team scored until Arzumanyan's breakaway tally, assisted by goalkeeper Hrach Hamzoyan, with 2:49 to play that narrowed the gap to 9-6.

SoCal retaliated with a goal 40 seconds later, but Kurjikyan made it 10-7 at the 1:42 mark and Manuk Piloyan brought the Titans as close as they had been since the first quarter on a tough shot that deflected off the goalkeeper's hands and in with 55 seconds left.

SoCal elected to simply run out the clock on its next possession, which gave the Titans 26 seconds to score two goals when they got the ball back.

Their play out of a timeout unfolded slowly and ultimately ineffectively, as OWRP's final attempt bounced off the right post.

"I was really happy with the defense, but our offense again needed some work," Zargaryan said. "Of course [being fourth in the nation is good], but once you get here you're obviously disappointed not to win these games."

The 14U team beat South Coast, 11-8, in the ninth-place game at West Adams Prep on Tuesday and the 16U squad fell to SoCal Black, 14-11, in the ninth-place game at Helen Bernstein High, also on Tuesday.

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