Nitros' victory leaves no doubt

PASADENA — There has been no shortage of heated battles for Pacific League supremacy between the boys' water polo teams from Glendale High and Crescenta Valley over the past years, with the three-time reigning league-champion Falcons always finding a way to get the upper hand.

A power shift in favor of the stacked Nitros coming into the season put the writing on the wall that the tide of the rivalry was turning and on Thursday afternoon at Pasadena City College, Glendale more than fulfilled that forecast with a 17-6 win as one-sided as any inflicted on it by the Falcons since CV's current title run began in 2008.

"Getting a win in league, no matter what team it is, is real nice, especially [against] Crescenta Valley," said Nitros Coach Forest Holbrook, whose team's balanced scoring was led by sophomore Armand Momdzhyan's five goals. "It's one of the best teams in our league, so we're really happy about it."

Having had its 26-match league winning streak snapped by Hoover, 18-12, on Tuesday, rebuilding Crescenta Valley (4-13, 1-2 in league) finds itself on a two-match league skid and has now lost to Glendale twice this season after previously facing the Nitros in a tournament match.

"We're just not learning from our mistakes as quickly as we should and our record speaks for itself," Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju said.

After scoring the first goal of the match on an Antonio Camarillo turnaround and keeping close at 3-2 on another Camarillo tally through the first three minutes, it looked as if the Falcons might be able to hang around as they did on Tuesday, taking a small lead into the half against the Tornadoes.

Glendale (14-6, 4-0) would have none of it. Ending the quarter with two straight goals from David Papazian (three goals) and Momdzhyan, both assisted by Martin Chatalyan, the Nitros stretched their run to 7-0 through the end of the second quarter. Momdzhyan opened the second quarter with a short hook shot for a goal before Papazian followed with a hard skip shot assisted by Shant Tokatyan.

Artak Arzumanyan scored one of his four goals on Manuk Piloyan's feed on a two-on-one counter sparked by a Tokatyan steal at the 2:19 mark and the Nitros closed out the first-half scoring with a man-advantage goal from Chatalyan and an aggressive move to the cage through two defenders by Arzumanyan with 1:11 to go.

"We came out strong and did really good," Momdzhyan said. "[We had] good team chemistry, good passing, everyone was working good, everyone clicked today."

Meanwhile, Crescenta Valley's offense was completely negated during the Nitros' first-half run, as the turnover-prone Falcons were held to just three shot attempts over the final 10:53 of the opening half.

"Our guys were so stagnant and Glendale would press the lanes and our guys would do nothing to get open," said Sakonju, who got three goals from Camarillo and two from Griffin Harting. "Glendale did what they were supposed to do — they were playing in those passing lanes so that there would be no way to get a pass in there and they would steal and counter.

"Part of our game plan was to force this game into a halfcourt situation and try to work on shutting down their hole/set, but when you turn the ball over like that on the perimeter, it feeds the counter and we had absolutely had no offense."

The Nitros' run of unanswered goals persisted nearly through the third period, as well, as Piloyan scored and Momdzhyan converted on a five-meter penalty shot to make it 12-2 before Crescenta Valley's Leo Rostamian scored with 48 seconds left to make it 12-3. Momdzhyan scored twice in the final 23 seconds of the third quarter, the last coming on a steal and lob over the goalkeeper with six seconds left, to give the Nitros a double-digit lead going into the fourth.

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