For the second straight postseason, Glendale found itself up against Redlands East Valley in a Division V first-round contest. Unfortunately for the Nitros, their playoff journey was cut short once again by the Wildcats.
“Redlands East Valley finished fifth in the final division regular season poll, so they have a tremendous team,” said Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook, whose team finished 15-8 and placed second in the Pacific League. “They are tough to play against.”
Redlands East Valley topped Glendale, 18-3, in the postseason before advancing to the semifinals a year ago. The Wildcats will next compete in a quarterfinal match Saturday.
After making the 90-minute trip east, Glendale fell behind, 4-0, after the first quarter and 9-0 at halftime.
The Wildcats (21-9), who have won five Citrus Belt League championships in a row, used their experience to stymie the Nitros and limit them to mostly perimeter shots.
“Since they have a strong team, they were able to get off to that quick start,” said Holbrook, who received a pair of goals from Melani Aghazarian. “Our plan coming in was to limit their top scorers, but they were successful in leading their offense.”
Redlands East Valley's sister combination of Allie and Maddy Wieseler combined for 11 goals. Allie finished with six goals, including a hat trick in the first quarter.
Redlands East Valley Coach Ryan Williams said the Wildcats looked to the sisters to pave the way against Glendale.
“They work so well together and they are only juniors,” Williams said. “They are a big part of our offense.
“We are into past history and we knew a lot about Glendale from having played them last year and we've watched tape of most of their games from this season. We wanted to make sure we were able to get off to a fast start because anything can happen if you don't. We wanted to break their spirit as quickly as possible.”
The Wildcats accomplished that feat, scoring four goals in the first quarter in less than five minutes.
Redlands East Valley built a 13-0 advantage late in the third quarter before Glendale received a goal from Christine Gasparian to make it 13-1 with 2:10 remaining in the third stanza.
Glendale played a better fourth quarter, scoring five goals. Aghazarian had both of her goals in the fourth quarter. Rima Gasparyan and Nineli Zargarian also scored one goal apiece for the Nitros in the fourth quarter.
Aghazarian said the Nitros couldn't overcome Redlands East Valley's first-quarter performance.
“They just came out strong and we knew it would be a challenge coming in because they have more experience than us,” Aghazarian said. “We just had an off-day.
“We achieved our biggest goal coming into the season and that was to finish top two in league. I'm satisfied in getting that done.”
Holbrook, who guided the school's boys' water polo team to a CIF championship in November, said the Nitros have some building blocks in place for next season.
“We will have a lot of people back and they have some playoff experience,” said Holbrook, whose team was ranked 10th in the latest division poll. “We can build off taking second in league and come back hungry next year.”