BURBANK — Challenged, but never overtaken, the surging Glendale High girls’ water polo team continued its impressive push through the Pacific League by holding off Burroughs High, 9-7, on Tuesday afternoon.
With the victory, the CIF Southern Section Division V ninth-ranked Nitros (11-2, 4-0) head into an undefeated showdown at four-time Pacific League champion Crescenta Valley, the third-ranked team, on Thursday afternoon.
“We’re going to give them our best. Crescenta Valley is a great team, but we’re going to play our hardest,” said Nitros junior goalie Lara Thomas, who finished with six saves in two quarters of play. “I don’t think a lot of people expected this from us, but we’re excited.”
Despite outshooting Burroughs, 9-6, in the fourth quarter, the Falcons didn’t build on their 8-6 advantage to begin the fourth.
In fact, the Indians sliced their deficit to one on an unexpected long-distance goal from senior driver Aliya Ehde, who chucked a shot past mid-pool over an unsuspecting defender for a goal that brought Burroughs within, 8-7, with 5:05 left.
Despite its best attempts to respond, Glendale was unable to create separation, first missing on a Naira Sarkian shot off the crossbar at 5:58, which came before a rocket from Rima Gasparyan at 5:25 that clanked off the post.
In between Glendale’s near makes, Thomas turned away two game-tying chances from the Indians, the first from Sophia Piedrahita at 3:41 and then from Kailee Groveman at 2:42.
Finally, the Nitros broke through when Sarkian fended off fierce defense from Ehde and fed teammate Melani Aghazarian, who scored from six meters with 1:31 left, which cemented the 9-7 score.
Thomas faced one final decent look when she batted away a shot from senior Hanna Jung with 56 seconds remaining.
With the defeat, the Indians (7-13, 2-3) fell further into the league standings, which was only slightly disappointing for coach Mike Singhanate.
“This was just a tough game. We were just off today,” Singhanate said. “We’re a middle-of-the-pack team in the Pacific and for the most part, I was happy with our performance. We were just missing a couple of things.”
Goals from Aghazarian (team-high six goals) and Sarkian gave Glendale a 2-1 advantage after one quarter.
Aghazarian then scored at 5:28 in the second to give the Nitros their biggest advantage of 3-1.
While Burroughs never trailed by more than two goals, it only pulled even once on a goal from Groveman (two goals) at 3:16 in the third, which knotted the game at 6.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we knew we could win,” Nitros junior Shushanik Gabrielyan said. “We worked hard during the summer to get ready for these types of games and for league.”
Yet, Glendale countered with two goals from Aghazarian to take its 8-6 lead after three.
“I’m not surprised with how well we’re doing. It was just a matter of executing. If we could do that then I thought we’d be successful,” Nitros co-Coach Casey Sripramong said. “I’m looking forward to keeping this going.”