BURBANK — When the girls' water polo teams from Glendale High and Pasadena last met just a week and a half ago, the Nitros got a big turnover and last-second goal in the fourth quarter to force overtime and steal the win.
In Tuesday's rematch in the semifinals of the Pacific League Girls' Water Polo Tournament at Burbank High, the Bulldogs once again held a slim lead in crunch time, but managed to control the endgame situation perfectly this time and keep the Nitros at bay for a 7-5 victory to end any hopes of Glendale claiming a piece of the league championship.
"Before the game I told the girls that the team that made the fewest mistakes today was going to win," said Nitros Forest Coach Holbrook, whose team will play Burbank in the third-place game of the tournament at 5 p.m. Thursday at Burbank. "We matched up so closely after the last time we played.
"I thought that our girls played a good game. All the credit goes to Pasadena, they played a solid game."
The second-seeded Nitros (15-9, 5-2 in league), who have already clinched no less than third place in league, trailed No. 3 seed Pasadena (16-9, 5-2) throughout the first half, but rallied to tie the match on a five-meter shot by Desiree Solano-Garcia with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
That's where the score remained going into the fourth, where the Bulldogs grabbed the upper hand right back with goals by Tori Tripoli and Amanda Pike inside the first two and a half minutes.
Kristina Terzyan answered for Glendale with a turning backhand shot assisted by Alique Berberian with 4:05 to play that cut the lead to 6-5, but Glendale fell short of tying the score just over a minute later when Arpineh Ohanian's attempt was stopped by Bulldogs goalkeeper Alegra Hueso (14 saves).
Tripoli struck again from the perimeter on a six-on-five advantage at the 2:48 mark in what would be the final tally of the match, although the Nitros would have their opportunities.
Glendale had its own 6-5 advantage with 1:28 left and took a timeout to set a play, but Terzyan's mid-range look was field blocked, putting the Nitros in a dire situation.
Terzyan's final low attempt was saved, but even if that one had gone, the Nitros would have needed a bigger miracle just to get the ball back.
"It's a tough one to swallow," Holbrook said. " We came out today in a three-way tie for fifth place in our division and after this, it's going to be up in the air where we end up [for playoffs]. Our focus has to be on nothing other than our next game. Our next game's out most important game."