BURBANK — A no-look, backhanded shot wasn't the plan.
But it was the shot that bounced off a goalkeeper's arms and hit the back of the cage and extended the Glendale High boys' water polo team's season.
Martin Narinyan's score with 15 seconds to play broke a tie and lifted the Nitros to a 10-9 victory against Chadwick on Wednesday in a first-round match of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs at Burbank High.
The Nitros will next play second-seeded La Serna or La Quinta in Friday's quarterfinals.
Tied at 9 with 30 seconds to play, Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook wanted to get the ball in the hands of Narinyan, his senior captain. Narinyan had his back turned to Chadwick goalkeeper Matthew Jamele and seemed to be out of position when he took a pass from Manuk Hakobyan on the left side of the cage.
Narinyan gathered the ball and tossed a shot to the lower-left corner, surprising Jamele. The senior goalkeeper, whose stellar play in the second half limited the Nitros to three goals in the final 14 minutes, was too slow to the ball. When Narinyan turned around to see the outcome of his shot, he admitted he was surprised he scored.
"I was surprised because my shots weren't going in," said Narinyan, who led his team with three goals and four assists and was supported by Cole Veloz and David Grigoryan, who had two goals apiece, as well as David Papazian, Vartan Mamikonyan and Shant Tokatyan (one goal each).
Said Holbrook: "We were due."
Narinyan and the rest of his teammates weren't able to muster much offense in the second half before his goal.
Glendale (17-8) held an 8-4 lead at the half, but the Nitros ran into a stubborn Chadwick defense that tipped what seemed to be every Glendale shot. Jamele — who had three saves in the first half and nine in the second — stopped the other Nitros shots that weren't deflected.
"Chadwick played solid defense," Holbrook said. "It was difficult for our boys to solve it. In the first half, we were able to take advantage of their weaker players. In the second half, Chadwick got their matchups."
Glendale was scoreless in the third quarter and went more than 12 minutes without a goal after Veloz's score with 3:37 to play in the second quarter.
"We started slow and we were slow to react," Chadwick Coach Will Didinger said. "We knew what we had to do, but we didn't do it. We started playing faster and we started playing stronger."
Chadwick (17-8) used a 5-0 run to take a 9-8 lead with 5:53 to play in the fourth quarter.
"The second half was very frustrating," Narinyan said. "We were out of energy and we all wanted to end the game. But we knew this was CIF and we all needed to end the game strong."
Grigoryan ended the scoring drought and tied the match off an assist from Hakobyan with 4:55 to play in the fourth.
The teams exchanged shots, called timeouts to strategize and made season-saving stops on defense as each squad tried to advance. Chadwick had an opportunity to take the lead, but Nitros goalkeeper Haik Chatalyan stopped a pair of Range's point-blank shots with a minute to play.
"[Chatalyan] made two great saves," Didinger said. "We had one of our best players in front of the goal, and he stopped it."
After the Nitros stopped Chadwick despite being down a player because of an ejection, Narinyan had the opportunity to provide the heroics.
Said Narinyan: "I knew I had to step up and do something."