Glendale girls' water polo

The Glendale High girls' water polo team huddles to cheer at the beginning of their game against Pasadena in a Pacific League girls water polo game at Pasadena High on Tuesday. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer) (January 14, 2014)

PASADENA — In scoring four of the first five goals of the fourth quarter, the Glendale High girls’ water polo team broke open a contentious match versus host Pasadena High en route to a 15-13 victory in the opening Pacific League contest for the Nitros on Wednesday afternoon.

“I think we play best with a little bit of pressure and when we started the fourth quarter that’s what we had,” said Nitros co-Coach Casey Sripramong, a 2008 alumna. “We haven’t had much problems generating offense, but our defense has been our big issue.

PHOTOS: Glendale vs. Pasadena girls water polo

“But when we started that fourth quarter, we played defense and were able to push away.”

Glendale (8-2 overall, 1-0 in league) was tied at 10 with Pasadena (3-11, 1-1) to begin the fourth quarter and immediately flexed those defensive muscles in forcing three turnovers on the Bulldogs’ first three possessions.

Those takeaways coincided with offensive scores the other way as Naira Sarkian opened with a goal off an assist from Melani Aghazarian 15 seconds into the quarter.

Aghazarian then scored thanks to an assist from Sarkian on a rare Nitros six-on-five opportunity before a steal from Sarkian led to a goal from Vehik Golabi with 5:07 remaining that put Glendale ahead, 13-10.

“We work on our conditioning all the time and practice in our pool, which is larger than this pool,” said Sarkian, who tallied five goals, five assists and three steals. “I just think we were in better shape at the end.”

Pasadena didn’t attempt its first shot until the 4:52 mark in the fourth when junior Irma Sarac nailed a long-distance goal that brought the Bulldogs within 13-11.

That goal, however, was quickly countered by a score from Aghazarian off an assist from Sarkian at 4:39 that again put the Nitros back up by three goals.

It was more than two minutes later when the Bulldogs finally responded with a goal from Sarac with 2:06 left.

While Pasadena had two more shots over the next minute, the Nitros iced the game when Aghazarian converted a half-pool shot with 43 seconds left to put the visitors ahead, 15-12.

“It took us a little while to get going. It might have been the pool because it’s so small,” said Aghazarian, who led her team with eight goals, three steals and two assists.

Glendale’s defense also received a boost from the goaltending duo of Shushanik Gabrielyan and Lara Thomas, which finished with 15 total saves.

Pasadena opened fast, taking a 3-1 lead at the 4:40 mark in the first before Glendale closed the gap to a 4-3 deficit after one quarter.

Both teams then alternated goals in the second quarter before Aghazarian knocked in a six-meter shot off the fingertips of Bulldogs goalie Savannah Woods (14 saves) with eight seconds remaining to knot the score at 7 with eight seconds before the half.

Sixteen seconds before Aghazarian’s goal, Glendale’s Lori Berberian picked up her third expulsion and was ejected.

Berberian was one of two Glendale girls ejected, as the Nitros were called for 12 kickouts, which led to seven goals.

In comparison, Glendale was two for three on its man-advantage chances.

“That’s not something to be proud of and we’re definitely going to have get better in that department. We have to stay calm and not get ejected so much. This certainly wasn’t our best game,” said Sripramong, who was issued a yellow card at the 5:01 mark in the third quarter. “But we won.”