Glendale water polo thwarts Burbank comeback attempt in league win

BURBANK — Burbank High water polo Coach Allison Young wants her team to play more like league foe Glendale.

Specifically, the coach would like to see a more aggressive style of play from her Bulldogs, something the Nitros have displayed this season.

Glendale came out and played its aggressive style, particularly on defense, Wednesday when it took on the host Bulldogs in a Pacific League contest, prompting an early lead. But Burbank pushed back, cut the deficit and made a game of it.

PHOTOS: Burbank vs. Glendale girls' water polo

But the Nitros countered with a big pushback of their own in the fourth quarter, shutting out the Bulldogs and securing a 16-6 victory.

From the early going, Glendale (10-2, 3-0 in league) dictated the tempo of the contest. That helped the Nitros surge out to an 8-1 advantage in the first half.

“We should have never let them get out to that big of a start,” Young said. “We just started off with us handing them the game.

“They just started scoring and playing aggressive on defense and we just didn’t do anything about it. We just have to be more aggressive as a team. But it’s really hard to try and teach girls to be more aggressive. You can’t just make them be more aggressive.”

Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook doesn’t really see his team’s play as being overtly aggressive. Instead, he equates the style to playing as solid, tight defense.

“We just really like to put pressure on the other team, especially on defense,” Holbrook said. “The more pressure we put on a team the more success we have as a team. It is something that is really hard to deal with for other teams.

“We have just a great group and they have worked very hard to get to where they’re at now. And it’s easy for them to play that kind of style when they know they have the teammates to back them up.”

That defense starts with goalkeepers Lara Thomas and Shushanik Gabrielyan, who split time in the cage against Burbank (4-8, 1-3).

On offense, Glendale was paced by Rima Gasparyan, who tallied a game-high five goals. Teammates Melanie Aghazarian, Naira Sarkian and Lori Berberian added three goals each.

The Nitros spread around the scoring in the first quarter, as four players scored and they ended the stanza with a 4-1 lead. The lone Burbank tally in the frame came from Anais Hacobian (two goals) with 1:46 remaining.

Glendale continued its solid play in the second quarter, scoring the first four goals. When Berberian found the back of the cage with 2:30 left, the Nitros had built an 8-1 cushion.

“When we start off with a big lead, we figure it doesn’t matter how may shots that we take or make, but it is more about our defense and how many goals the other team will make,” Gasparyan said. “If we play our defense, there is no way they are going to catch up to us.”

Burbank definitely gave it a try. The Bulldogs scored three of the final goals in the second quarter and went into half down, 9-4.

At the start of the third, a Nitros ejection opened the door for a Hacobian goal with 5:55 remaining to cut the deficit to four, 9-5.

With an 11-6 lead going into the fourth quarter, the Nitros extinguished any more hopes of a Burbank comeback by outscoring the Bulldogs, 5-0, in the final frame.

Loosine Boghosian added two goals for Burbank.

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