BURBANK — The Glendale High girls’ water polo squad took a double dip into the pool of competition at the fifth annual Burbank Tournament to open its season and ended up with a perfect day in Pool D play.
On Friday, Glendale first took to the pool to face fellow Pacific League member Arcadia in a pre-league engagement that ended in a 7-2 Nitros win.
“It was a great way to start the season,” Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook said of the victory against the Apaches. “Our girls have been working since August and it’s nice to see them being rewarded with a win to start off the season.”
Next up was West High of Torrance, which also defeated the Apaches, as the Nitros looked to go for the win in the three-team Pool D Friday evening. The Nitros did just that, as they defeated the Warriors, 12-5, although Holbrook was not there to see it.
The teams were all knotted up at 3 with 1:18 left in the first quarter when Holbrook loudly expressed his displeasure at the lack of exclusions called against the Warriors as they played physical and aggressive defense without getting called for fouls. Holbrook was issued a yellow card and then was ejected for what the officials labeled “disruptive behavior.”
The Nitros (2-0) responded to the ejection of their coach by upping their play, now led by assistant Casey Sripramong, who was the coach working with the Nitros this summer as Holbrook attended to his CIF-champion boys’ squad. After Holbrook’s banishment from poolside, Glendale held West (3-2) scoreless for the next 15:23, spanning the second and third quarters into the fourth. In that same span, the Nitros scored seven goals to seize the win.
“We had to back him up,” Glendale’s Naira Sarkian, who had a game-high six goals, said, “and show the refs that, even if you try to stop us, we can still take it.”
In the first quarter’s final minute, Vehik Golabi collected the long rebound off the bar from a long-range shot by Rima Gasparyan and blasted home a long-range shot of her own with 28 seconds left to give Glendale a 4-3 lead after one quarter.
To start the contest, Glendale had gotten two quick goals from Sarkian in the game’s first 53 seconds to jump out to an early 2-0 advantage. The senior would score the Nitros’ first three goals leading up to Holbrook’s ousting.
“[Sarkian] has great ball awareness. Her skills are awesome,” Sripramong said.
The Nitros shut West out in second and third quarters with strong defense leading the way.
“We just like to press, like a long strong defense, not too much dropping,” Sripramong said.
Gasparyan assisted Sarkian for the first of Glendale’s two second-quarter scores. The second came from Melanie Aghazarian, who moved in toward the goal before launching a shot into the corner of the net. In between the two scores, with Glendale down two swimmers due to exclusions, Nitros goalkeeper Lara Thomas made a dramatic save when she tipped a hard shot back that bounced off the crossbar and back into her hands. Glendale led, 6-3, at half.
Glendale pushed the advantage with a three-goal third quarter that saw Aghazarian assist Nineli Zargarian on a goal in the first minute. Sarkian got the next two on long shots. The Nitros cushion peaked at 12-3 early in the fourth quarter when Golabi scored her second goal of the game.
With the two wins to open the season, Glendale won the Burbank Tournament’s Pool D and will face Pool A winner Mayfield at 1:00 p.m. However, the Nitros will have to do it without their head coach, who will be forced to sit out his squad’s first game of the day, but can return for the second.
“The harder the competition, the better it is for them,” Sripramong said.