Nitros shake off cobwebs to wrap up Bulldogs

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Every time the Glendale High boys' water polo team scored a goal during the first half of Tuesday's Pacific League home game, Pasadena had a quick response.

But the Bulldogs' bid to make a statement against the reigning league champs and No. 1-ranked squad in CIF Southern Section Division V was silenced In the second half, as the Nitros simply dominated the conversation.

Arman Momdzhyan (nine goals) scored five times in the second half, in which Glendale more than tripled its first-half goal total, to lead the Nitros from a tie game at the half to a 17-7 victory that improved the team's mark to 12-5 with a 2-0 record in league.

"Our boys just came out a little bit slow," said Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook, who also got two goals apiece from Artak Arzumyan and Martin Chatalyan. "I think that we still have a young team and it's tough for a young team to be as mentally prepared as an older team. It's something that we've been working on and will continue to work on throughout the season.

"It's nice, though, that our boys can come together in the second half."

Glendale led, 3-0, in the first quarter on back-to-back goals by Momdzhyan — the first a slick behind-the-back wraparound, the second coming on a shot down low fed by David Papazian — and a score from Jason Wilia on a counter on the right wing also set up by a Papazian pass.

But Pasadena (11-6, 1-2) had knotted it at 3 by the 6:30 mark of the second quarter on a Kevin Caballero tally and two straight from Matthew Klein, the last coming on a fallaway shot from the right side into the left corner of the cage.

Momdzhyan then scored two more goals in a 33-second span to put the Nitros back up, 5-3, but they would go the final 5:07 of the half without scoring again. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs got two scores from Matthew Esser, including a five-meter shot with 1:10 left to take a tie into halftime.

"We were lacking intensity, definitely," Momdzhyan said. "We could have done better defensively and offensively. We weren't playing as a team, no chemistry.

"Defense [is the key]. We were lacking defensively. It doesn't matter about our offense, it will get there, but our defense was lacking, so we picked it up at the end."

The Nitros' defense was stellar in the third quarter, where Pasadena's first goal came with three seconds left despite the Bulldogs taking 12 shots — four on goal and one with the aid of a 6-5 man-advantage.

By that time, Glendale had gone on a 5-1 run that started with Chatalyan's open 15-footer inside the first minute. Momdzhyan, who came up with a steal at the 2:20 mark to thwart another Bulldogs 6-5 man-advantage, had two more goals in the third, which saw Papazian put the Nitros up, 10-5, at the 3:00 mark.

Esser would score the first goal of the fourth to get Pasadena back within three before Glendale slammed the door with seven unanswered to end the match, including three more tallies from Momdzhyan, two scores from Arzumyan and another from Chatalyan.

"We can hold them in the deep end, but when they're shooting in the shallow end like they were in the third and fourth quarter, and they're coming off the bottom, that's only 4 1/2 feet deep," Pasadena Coach Neil Esser said. "Aside from all that, we didn't rotate quickly enough. If you're a half-second late on the rotation, Arman will just backhand, forehand sweep, you name it, he's that good. He makes you over shift and then they get every single pass. We had to, by necessity, leave lanes open because he's so big."

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