Nitros knock off No. 1

With perhaps its biggest game of the season still on the horizon, the Glendale High's boys' water polo team promptly picked up its biggest victory of the season thus far.

"It's huge to be honest," said Nitros Coach Forest Holbrook shortly after his team defeated CIF Southern Section Division V top-ranked Bonita, 10-9, on the road Friday afternoon. "It was difficult. All week we were preparing for Hoover and then we had to play the top team in the division. All the credit has to go to the boys and how they focused."

Dramatic and nailbiting, it was also the first time the Glendale boys' water polo program had defeated a top-ranked divisional opponent since 2001 when the Nitros defeated Santa Barbara.

The one-goal victory was saved by Nitros goalie David Grigorian, who blocked a five-meter attempt with just 10 seconds remaining to preserve the win. And it was a win made possible in large part by freshman Manuk Piloyan, whose defense was key in a fourth quarter that saw the Nitros hold the Bearcats scoreless in the stanza and also saw Piloyan score the game-winner.

"He did a fantastic job," said Holbrook of Piloyan.

It was the sixth-straight victory for a Glendale squad that is currently ranked seventh in Division V and improved to 18-7.

"It's a real big win for us going into CIF [playoffs]," Holbrook said. "We're excited to see where we're ranked [on Monday when the new CIF polls are released]. We feel like we're one of the best teams in CIF and we're hoping the rankings will show that."

Armand Momdzhyan led the way offensively for the Nitros, scoring five goals and drawing three ejections, while every other Glendale starter scored a goal each.

"We had pretty balanced scoring," Holbrook said.

With archrival and fellow league-unbeaten Hoover on the schedule Wednesday, Holbrook said much of this week leading up to the Bonita matchup was focused on game planning for Hoover, but after a "really good practice" on Thursday, the Nitros took to the pool with their best game yet, according to their coach.

Bonita emerged from the first quarter with a two-goal lead and carried a slim one-goal advantage into halftime and the third quarter. But in the fourth, Glendale's defense stiffened and, down, 9-8, to begin the final period, held the Bearcats scoreless.

"They're a fantastic team," Holbrook said of Bonita. "It was a great game."

Shant Tokatyan was a catalyst for the Nitros' defense, notching a team-high five steals, but also drew his third ejection in the fourth quarter. Piloyan took his place and defended Tokatyan's mark the rest of the way.

In the end, the deciding margin was provided by the game-winner from Piloyan, a freshman, and a five-meter save from Grigorian.

"This is something to build off," Holbrook said. "Right now, we're playing our top level of water polo."

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