Off day comes at worst time for Nitros

BURBANK — From the beginning, things just didn't seem to be right with the Glendale High boys' water polo team in Friday's CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal playoff match.

By the end of the third quarter, nothing had gone right at all for a Nitros squad with aspirations of getting back to the semifinals and beyond, and it was obvious the remainder of their season would be measured in minutes, not matches.

Glendale's normally dangerous offense was flat and its defense was unable to stem a flow of goals by a more aggressive La Serna squad that bounced the host Nitros from the playoffs with a 16-5 loss at Burbank High.

"It just seemed like our shooting was off and CIF is not the time for your shooting to go off," Glendale Coach Holbrook said. "La Serna played a very strong defense, their offense was clicking."

Second-seeded La Serna (19-5) jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the first three minutes, and although Glendale (17-8) tied the match with a pair of goals from Martin Narinyan by the end of the quarter, it was the last look the Nitros would get at the game.

Beginning with a short lob by Oliver Carter over Glendale goalkeeper Haik Chatalyan at the 6:24 mark, and ending with Carter's easy floater with 45 seconds left before halftime, the Lancers scored six unanswered goals in the second period to put Glendale at a disadvantage that would prove to be insurmountable.

Meanwhile, it wasn't as if the Nitros didn't get chances to stop the Lancers' run. Glendale took nine shots in the quarter, one fewer than La Serna, and the first six were all on goal. Lancers goalkeeper Michael Skinas recorded six of his 16 saves in the second period, as the Nitros directed many of their shots to the middle of the cage, making easy pickings for Skinas.

"We made that goalie look really good," Holbrook said. "All the credit to the goalie, he was making [the saves], but we were not finding the corners and with these top goalies here at CIF, you need to find those corners and we weren't able to do that at all today."

Goals from Martik Chatalyan and Shant Tokatyan inside the first two and a half minutes of the third period helped Glendale pull to within 9-4, but La Serna then went on a 3-0 run to end the quarter behind goals from Carter, Blake Chien and Chris Chiu.

Glendale was nearly shut out in the fourth quarter, as well, if not for Narinyan's third goal of the match at the 3:02 mark.

"It's tough, our team's one of the top teams in the area, but you get down five goals and it's hard not for them to [get discouraged]," said Holbrook, whose team finished second in the Pacific League. "I'm very proud of how the boys ended their season. They played really hard and I was happy to see them finish up the season playing a strong game. I think we played a lot stronger game than the score really shows, but it's just a tough way to end the season."

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