By Rick Assad
This is Mike Lucero’s first year as the Burbank High boys’ water polo coach and in time hopes to build a competitive program.
One of the steps needed to help solidify this desire is to face top-notch competition like Thousand Oaks, which came to the Bulldogs pool on Monday afternoon for a nonleague match.
Though the Lancers raced off to a commanding lead, they were hard-pressed in the second half by Burbank, but eventually won 16-11.
Thousand Oaks (14-3) scored four goals in each quarter while the Bulldogs (4-6) were shut out in the first quarter.
Burbank then tallied four goals in the second frame before adding three in the third and four goals in the fourth period.
“We definitely kind of pressed more because defense wins championships,” Lucero said of his team during the match. “We’re capable of doing that. We scored four goals in one quarter. We’ve got to stay focused.”
Still, Lucero liked what he saw. “Thousand Oaks is a strong team. We definitely weren’t intimidated. Our goal within the next year is to be at that level,” he said.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs was sophomore driver Jonathan Agazaryan with five goals while sophomore setter Robert Kharazyan scored three goals.
Junior Conner Halvorsen paced the Lancers with five goals, including three in the opening quarter when Thousand Oaks led 4-0.
Halvorsen’s 15-footer with 5:35 left made it 1-0 and Halvorsen’s 12-footer with 3:57 on the clock extended the margin to 2-0.
Senior Carsen Peyton’s seven-footer with 2:49 left put the Lancers ahead 3-0 and Halvorsen’s 10-foot strike with one second on the clock pushed the advantage to 4-0.
“It was a good contest so it stayed within about three or four goals the entire game,” Thousand Oaks coach Zach Graper said. “We got to see a lot of people that hadn’t had a lot of opportunity step up and come into more contributing roles. These are games that will help us a lot come playoff season.”
Graper then added: “We’re missing three starters and the boys really stepped up and was ready to play,” he noted. “We got a great level of depth. It was a lot of fun. Burbank really showed a great contest.”
Thousand Oaks then took control 6-0 on back-to-back goals from junior Greg Olsen on a 10-footer with 6:08 left and a five-footer with 4:54 showing.
The spell was finally broken when Kharazyan connected on a five-footer with 4:40 left and a six-footer, 22 seconds later.
Each team divided the next four goals as Halvorsen drilled a 10-footer with 1:58 on the ticker that made it 7-2 and senior Dylan Hearst canned one from 18 feet and 14 seconds left for an 8-4 edge.
Sandwiched in between were two goals from sophomore driver Pavel Tantchev that came with 1:24 and was from 12 feet that cut the lead to 7-3 and a six-footer with one minute showing as Burbank drew within 7-4.
The Lancers outscored the Bulldogs 4-3 in the third quarter as senior Maison Van Item scored from point-blank range and 6:42 left for a 9-4 margin and Halvorsen’s 12-foot laser with 4:22 remaining for a 10-6 lead.
Hearst’s 14-footer with 2:27 left made it 11-6 and Peyton’s 10-foot bullet with two minutes left saw the Lancers pull ahead 12-6.
Agazaryan scored all three tallies for the Bulldogs in the third quarter and they included two from point-blank range and came with 5:23 left that sliced the Lancers’ lead to 9-5 and with 4:41 on the clock as the Bulldogs drew within 9-6.
When Agazaryan drilled a 12-footer with 1:04 remaining, Thousand Oaks’ lead was lowered to 12-7.
Agazaryan poured in two goals in the fourth quarter that included a six-footer with 4:22 left that trimmed the lead to 14-9 and an 18-footer with 45 seconds remaining that sliced Thousand Oaks’ lead to 16-11.
Burbank senior driver Kourosh Dolatshahi’s 14-footer with 5:30 left made it 13-8 and Khazaryan’s eight-foot tally and 3:51 on the clock cut the advantage to 14-10.
Junior Cade Rond’s 14-footer with 5:47 left for Thousand Oaks made it 13-7 and Peyton’s point-blank strike with 5:16 left pushed the cushion to 14-8.
Senior Braden Padburg’s 10-footer with 2:21 left made it 15-10 and Peyton’s six-footer with 50 seconds remaining increased the Lancers’ lead to 16-10.
Burbank senior goalie Sarkis Terpetrossyan was outstanding, especially in the second quarter when he blocked multiple close-range shots.