Glendale High boys' water polo advances to title game with win over Burbank

BURBANK — About a minute into the third quarter, Glendale High boys' water polo Coach Forest Holbrook began to hear some chirping.

PHOTOS: Glendale vs. Burbank in Pacific League boys' water polo  

The complaints came after the coach had taken out his starters in Tuesday afternoon's Pacific League Tournament semifinal versus host Burbank High after the Nitros had built an 11-goal advantage at intermission.

Yet, those complaints weren't coming from the stands, but from just outside the pool as those starters implored their coach to reassert them back into the contest and allow them to finish what they started.

Glendale did so, pushing back a Bulldogs charge in the fourth quarter en route to a 20-11 victory that puts the Nitros in position to take care of some more unfinished work, namely the prospect of wrapping up a Pacific League championship.

"We're really competitive and we don't ever want to come out of the pool. It feels like we're being lazy when we're not in," said Glendale senior Arman Momdzhyan (four goals and six assists), who along with Artak Arzumanyan and Manuk Piloyan were most vocal about returning to the game. "We feel like we need to be out there to help our team."

With the victory, tournament top seed Glendale (17-6, 7-0) will face second-seeded Crescenta Valley (15-8, 6-1) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. back at Burbank High for the Pacific League Tournament championship.

Burbank (10-10, 3-4) will take on Pasadena (14-7, 4-3) in the preceding contest at 4:30 p.m.

Getting to Thursday's final required a little patience from the Nitros, who outscored the Bulldogs, 8-1, in the second quarter in taking a dominant 14-3 advantage into the break.

Up double-digits, Holbrook made a wholesale switch, swapping out his starters for bench players to begin the third quarter, which resulted in the Bulldogs winning the third quarter, 5-1, and rallying within 15-8.

Even with Glendale's starters back in the contest, Burbank's Artur Mheryan (team-high six goals, three steals and three assists) scored a rebound goal at the 5:12 mark to pull his squad within 15-9.

That was the closest the Bulldogs ever came again as the Nitros responded with three straight goals, the first a score from Arzumanyan (team-high eight goals and three steals) off an assist from Harut Bandikyan with 4:56 remaining that put Glendale back up by seven.

Arzumanyan's next score came a little more than a minute later when he netted a one-on-one breakaway goal thanks in part to one of Momdzhyan's eight steals that gave the Nitros an 18-9 advantage and sealed the game.

"I was happy with the way we started out this game and thought it was good to get some of the bench guys some playing time," Holbrook said. "We've got the championship on Thursday and the playoffs are coming up right after. If you're going to make a run, you need a deep bench."

Glendale raced out to a 6-2 advantage after one quarter behind a pair of goals each from Arzumanyan and Piloyan (four goals and four assists). Burbank actually had a chance to stick closer with the Nitros in the first quarter, but only converted one of two five-meter penalties on a goal from Mheryan, while missing out on a six-on-five chance.

As for the second quarter, no player was more impactful than Momdzhyan, who scored two goals and added three assists and five steals as Glendale ran away to a 14-3 lead.

To Burbank's credit, the Bulldogs battled in the third quarter behind two goals each from Mheryan and Dante Nazarian (two goals).

Burbank goalie Derek Baer finished with six saves, while Arman Torosian tallied four steals.

"Glendale is a very good team. We just wanted to play out best," Burbank Coach Zeb Jenkins said. "They have an advantage of playing club and that's what I want for our team so that we're ready for the season and for games like these."

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