Glendale High girls' polo advances to league tournament title game

BURBANK — As the current junior class president at Glendale High, it’s important for Shushanik Gabrielyan to stay on top of matters involving the student council, academics and extra-curricular activities.

It’s not that much different in the pool for Gabrielyan, the starting goalkeeper for the Glendale girls’ water polo team. Whether its in the classroom or in the pool, plenty of her classmates and teammates count on Gabrielyan.

Gabrielyan answered the bell Tuesday, as she made nine saves to spark second-seeded Glendale to a 3-2 victory against third-seeded Arcadia in a semifinal match of the Pacific League Tournament at Burbank High.

Glendale, ranked ninth in the latest CIF Southern Section Division V poll, improved to 15-6, 6-1 in league and will meet top-seeded Crescenta Valley (20-6, 7-0) in the tournament’s title match at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the same location. A victory by Glendale against Crescenta Valley would give the Nitros a share of the league crown. Crescenta Valley gained at least a split of the league title Tuesday with a 22-6 win against fourth-seeded Burroughs.

“It’s really exciting to play in a game that tight,” said Gabrielyan, who finished with four second-half saves to set back the Apaches (5-3 in league). “You come in having to be calm in a close game and my defense did a great job in front of me.

“It will be great to play for the league championship. We’ve trained and worked hard for this all year.”

Glendale never trailed against Arcadia. The Nitros got a pair of first-quarter goals a little more than two minutes apart from Lisa Mekhitarian to build a 2-0 advantage. Laura Chun of Arcadia trimmed the deficit to 2-1 with 2:50 remaining in the second quarter.

Naira Sarkian restored Glendale’s two-goal lead to 3-1 with 3:15 left in the third quarter before Chun brought the Apaches to within 3-2 with 5:48 to go in the fourth quarter.

Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook said Gabrielyan, who stopped an up-close shot with about two minutes left in regulation, came prepared to give the Nitros an opportunity to reach the championship match.

“Most of the saves she made were huge,” said Holbrook, who guided the school’s boys’ water polo team to a CIF championship in November. “We told her before the game to be ready for everything and she was.

“We were expecting a low-scoring game. Both teams played fantastic defense and our focus was being able to stop Arcadia’s counter-attack. We stuck in there and they handled the pressure very well.”


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