LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — It was a challenging way for the Flintridge Prep and Burbank High boys' water polo teams to begin their season Tuesday.
Because of technical difficulties at the Rebels' pool, the teams had to compete in their nonleague opener with no working scoreboard and no visible game clock.
Despite the problems, Bulldogs first-year Coach Adam Wright thought that what his squad didn't know during the contest might have actually helped it.
Although Burbank was missing some key players, it was able to stave off an unrelenting Flintridge Prep team to earn a 15-13 victory.
Wright, who served as the swim coach for more than 10 years, as well as an assistant water polo coach at Burbank, said his team was intent on going out and playing to its strengths.
"With the problems with the pool Tuesday, and the fact that we were able to overcome that, just shows our composure," Wright said. "We just had to battle back and play our game. Our guys didn't care that there wasn't a shot clock and they didn't care what the score was. It was something that maybe was good for us."
For Flintridge Prep, the loss to the Bulldogs definitely provided some bright spots for a team that is looking to improve after not being able to notch a win in Prep League play a year ago.
"We were just happy to be in the pool playing against someone," Coach Dan Hare said. "We haven't even started school yet, so this was nice to start the season and kinda see where we're at."
The Rebels were to able to stay in the match with Burbank due largely to the play of junior goalkeeper Brian Khin, who was making his first varsity start in the cage. Khin seemed fearless, continually thwarting Burbank's offense and coming up with big saves. He ended the match with 16 blocks.
"He's just not a typical kind of goalie," Hare said. "If he can play that way all year we're really going to have something. He really played his heart out and he was making a lot of those saves from point-blank range. Inside [five meters] he was just fearless."
The Bulldogs were missing their leading scorer from a year ago, Sam Akopian, who was still awaiting the completion of his paperwork for his physical. In his place, the team received six goals from Dante Nazarian and four from Zach Card. Daniel Gonzalez added two goals and Nick Erzumyan, Sean Savoy and Nicholas Vitaglano added a goal apiece.
Burbank also got a solid effort from junior goalkeeper Derek Bear, who was making his first career start. He tallied nine blocks.
"These guys have been taught for the last few years that defense wins games," Wright said. "We came out and played really aggressive defense and I think that helped us a great deal. We did allow some goals, but we were able to bounce back and score ourselves."
Burbank took control of the match in the early going, scoring the contest's first three goals to take an early lead. But the Rebels showed they weren't about to let the visitors continue their roll by scoring the next two goals to make it a one-score match, 3-2.
The Bulldogs got another goal just before the end of the first quarter to push their lead back to two.
Flintridge Prep continued to battle in the second quarter, tying the score at 6. But it was never able to grab the lead
Burbank took an 8-6 lead into halftime.
The Rebels got to within a goal at 9-8 early in the third quarter, but that was as close as they would get. Prep scored its final goal with 23 seconds remaining, but the team couldn't get the ball back to try and cut the lead to one and hopefully get a chance for a tie.
"We have a really tough league, so we hope by playing teams like these we can gain some experience for when we do get to league," Hare said. "If we can tap into these larger public programs it's going to help us. Games like these are going to be good for us in the long run."
Flintridge Prep was paced on offense by Ethan Vandeventer, who had a team-high five goals. Teammate Kellan Rohde added four and Alex Blaine and Diego Delgado had two each.