BURBANK — Flintridge Prep boys’ water polo Coach Dan Hare was trying to get his team one last tuneup prior to its opening league match.
Burbank Coach Kristina Garcia was attempting to teach some of her players a little something about following team rules.
Both coaches might just have accomplished their goals when the squads faced one another Monday in a nonleague contest at Burbank.
The Rebels were able to battle back, overcoming a sluggish first half to play much better in the second, to win the battle of the ranked teams, 13-12.
While Flintridge Prep (8-5) is ranked No. 5 in CIF Southern Section Division V, Burbank (5-2) holds down the No. 8 spot in the division.
Fresh from a fifth-place finish Saturday in the Malibu Tournament, Hare said Burbank was the type of competitive program he wanted his squad to square off against before it opens Prep League play Tuesday against Webb.
“I take my hat off to Burbank; they have some real good shooters on that team,” Hare said. “We always try to play schools that are bigger than we are because we know that the competition helps us in the long run. You want to play tough teams to get you ready for league.”
The Bulldogs began the game with a number of starters on the bench. Garcia said she held the players out in the early going because of some minor infractions. She was hoping the disciplinary action would wake up some of the Bulldogs athletes.
“There were some players who didn’t show up and failed to notify either myself [or my assistant coach],” said Garcia, who is in her first season after previously coaching at Burroughs. “It hurt us not having them in there from the start. But as long as this teaches them what this program is all about than I’m happy. I don’t need the win under my belt.”
The Rebels received solid performances from a group of players. Four individuals, Diego Delgado, Alex Blaine, Jamie Walker and Ethan Vandeventer, tallied three goals each.
Delgado staked Prep to an early 1-0 lead when he converted a five-meter penalty shot just 20 seconds into the match.
However, Burbank quickly tied the score and moved ahead, 2-1, on consecutive goals by Arthur Mneryan. That forced the Rebels to play catch-up for most of the first three quarters.
“We just never want to give up,” Delgado said. “In the past we’ve done that, but now we just keep on fighting and we just don’t want to lose. We usually don’t have very many good first quarters, but we seem to pick it up and win at the end.”
Burbank received four goals from Zach Card and three from Patrick Vertani.
The Bulldogs were kept in the match largely because of the play of goalkeeper Derek Baer, who came up big in the second half. Baer made eight of his 10 saves over the course of the third and fourth quarters.
In the first quarter, Burbank’s Sean Savoy scored to put his squad in front, 3-1. The Rebels continued to battle, but still found themselves trailing after the first quarter, 5-3.
As hard as Flintridge Prep tried in the second quarter, it couldn’t erase the lead and the Bulldogs went into the half with a 10-8 cushion.
But the Rebels’ defense came up big in the third quarter, shutting out Burbank, 2-0, in the stanza to tie the score at 10.
“In our previous games, we were only pushed by one other team,” Garcia said. “I told the boys they were getting complacent and it showed today. Playing those easy teams got the boys feeling too comfortable. When you play those kinds of games you kind of forget how you have to fight to win.”
The Rebels scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter to take a 12-10 advantage before Burbank’s Dante Nazarian cut the lead in half with a score at the 4:33 mark.
The Rebels scored again, just to have the Bulldogs answer the tally with a goal with 3:01 remaining and trailed by one, 13-12.
Although the Rebels had their chances to increase their lead late in the fourth, they couldn’t convert. Likewise, Burbank had three chances to tie the score in the final two minutes. After a scoop shot by Card missed its mark, Nazarian missed with a long shot attempt with 54 seconds left. The Bulldogs then had a final opportunity with less than 20 seconds left, but Delgado stole the ball and the Rebels held on as time expired.