Glendale's Kajari Ghazari, top, looks to pass over Hoover's Hakop Baghumian.

Glendale's Kajari Ghazari, top, looks to pass over Hoover's Hakop Baghumian. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer / October 24, 2012)

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — It’s not often that the members of the Glendale High boys’ water polo team have trailed by four goals in a match this season.

Playing against their cross-town rival on Wednesday afternoon and without their head coach, the Nitros found themselves in that situation. Behind big efforts from Artak Arzumanyan and Martin Chatalyan, the Nitros recovered and survived a scare.

Arzumanyan finished with eight goals and Chatalyan added five to power Glendale to a 16-12 road victory against Hoover.

Glendale, the defending league champion and the top-ranked team in the latest CIF Southern Section Division V poll, improved to 17-5, 6-0 in league. The Nitros will meet the winner of Friday’s league match between Pasadena or Burroughs in a semifinal match of the league tournament on Tuesday at Burbank. Hoover dropped to 2-4 in league.

“Being No. 1 in the division [and] in our league, we know that everybody will play their best against us,” Arzumanyan said. “We are not willing to give either one up.

“Hoover came out strong and fought until the end. They showed that, so we had to fight even harder.”

Hoover appeared to have things in control late in the second quarter. The Tornadoes built a 7-3 lead before the Nitros scored four unanswered goals in the final two minutes to knot it at 7. Arzumanyan had three goals and Chatalyan had one in that stretch to turn the tide in Glendale’s favor entering the second half.

The Nitros were without coach Forest Holbrook, who served a one-match suspension after being ejected in Glendale’s previous match against Los Altos. Glendale Athletic Director Pat Lancaster filled in, making his first coaching appearance since he co-coached the program in 2005.

“Hoover came out and did a nice job of clogging things up,” Lancaster said. “We had to stay calm and patient.

“Once we came back all the way back from that deficit, I thought we could get ahead of them. We’ve had some great games with Hoover over the years. We are battle tested and I’m just happy we were able to win this time. When things were not going well, they didn’t panic.”

David Papazian, Arman Momdzhyan and Arzumanyan each scored a goal in a 77-second stretch midway through the third quarter to grab a 10-7 advantage.

Hoover got a goal each from Alek Keshishyan and Ryan Moguel less than a minute apart to close to within 10-9 with 42 seconds left in the third quarter. Arzumanyan made it 11-9 eight seconds later.

Hoover could get no closer than 14-12 on a goal by Keshishyan with 3:34 remaining. Arzumanyan and Chatalyan scored 61 seconds apart late in the match to seal the victory.

Hoover Coach Kevin Witt, a former standout player at Glendale, said the Tornadoes had difficulty executing on defense.

“You can’t give up 16 goals and expect to win,” Witt said. “We are doing some things on defense that are relatively new and we had some breakdowns that cost us.

“I’m disappointed in our defense. I thought it was an excellent game. The rivalry has gotten better as the years have gone by.”

Hoover received three goals from Hakop Baghumian and two from Narek Sarokhani.

Glendale scored on four of its nine man-advantage opportunities. By comparison, Hoover capitalized on two of its six man-advantage chances.

Glendale goalkeeper David Tiraturyan finished with 10 saves. Hoover got eight saves from Dmitriy Ginosyan.