Nitros untangle Webb, 20-10

BURBANK — The Glendale High boys' water polo team used the first quarter of its CIF Southern Section Division V first-round match Wednesday against Webb as feeling-out process.

Unfortunately for the Nitros, the Gaels used the first quarter of the contest to send a message that they had come prepared to put up a fight, as the teams were tied after one stanza.

But Glendale was able to figure out the Webb defense in the second quarter and started distancing itself from its competitor. The Nitros then began to dominate in the second half, leading the way for a 20-10 victory at Burroughs High.

The win puts the Nitros (22-7) into a quarterfinal match Saturday against La Serna, which defeated Crescenta Valley, 11-8, in a first-round match Wednesday. The match will be at La Serna at a time to be determined. The Lancers are the champions of the Del Rio League and defeated the Nitros in last season's quarterfinal.

Glendale, which is coming off of its first Pacific League championship since 2002, has a recent history with Webb (18-11), the No. 3 team from the Prep League. Two seasons ago, the Nitros suffered an overtime loss to the Gaels in the semifinals if the Division VI playoffs.

Nitros Coach Forest Holbrook said he was not using Wednesday's rematch as any sort of payback for the loss in 2009.

"You always want to win that game," Holbrook said about the semifinal loss. "It doesn't make up for that ever, just because we were able to beat the same school today. I don't think that result two years ago mattered today."

Glendale was able to spread its scoring around against Webb, as six Nitros found the back of the goal. Leading the way was David Papazian, who tallied six goals. Teammate Martin Chatalyan added five and Manuk Piloyan had four.

The Nitros also received a solid effort in goal by David Grigorian, who came up with 11 saves.

"I didn't expect to face that many shots," Grigorian said. "I don't expect the game to go like it did in the beginning, so I don't think I came in as ready as I should have been."

Webb took a 2-1 lead in the first quarter and increased its advantage to 4-2 at the 2:21 mark. But the Nitros crept their way back, notching a goal from Papazian with 2:05 remaining and a score from Artak Arzumanyan with just 45 seconds left to knot the score at 4.

That's the way the quarter ended.

The stingy Glendale defense reared its head in the second quarter, as the Gaels were held to one goal and the Nitros accounted for four to take an 8-5 advantage into halftime.

"It took a little bit for us to get used to the defense in that first quarter," Holbrook said. "But once we figured that out, we were able to lock it down and we started scoring like we know that we can."

In the second quarter, Webb connected on just one of seven shots.

Glendale started to flex its muscle and impose its will in the third quarter, leaving the Gaels in its wake. Webb was outscored, 8-2, in the third, which increased the Nitros advantage to 16-7.

"This was a very important win for us. It was the most important win of the season," Papazian said. "It's nice for us to get off to a good start like this in playoffs. ...We know things are going to get tougher."

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