By Rick Assad
For nearly three quarters of Wednesday night’s CIF Southern Section Division V boys’ water polo semifinal match at the brand new Glendale High Aquatic Center between Burbank and Buena, Robert Kharazyan didn’t score.
Once he did, his play dominated the action over the final nine minutes and 21 seconds as he found the back of the net three times, including the go-ahead and the winning tally.
Kharazyan’s goal from seven feet with 1:21 left in the game handed Burbank an 8-7 lead and his tally on a follow-up with 44 seconds remaining supplied the winning point as Burbank edged Buena 9-8.
“It was a lot of pressure at the end. We were very much tied. They’re a very good team. It was just that final shot we had to get it off,” Kharazyan said of the match-clincher. “We had to make it through. There was a lot of pressure, but we kept our heads and we got it through.”
Kharazyan is looking forward to Saturday, which will be the most important match of the season because it’s the division title game.
“We are all very excited,” he said. “Hopefully we can come home with that ring.”
An extremely important goal for Burbank in the fourth quarter came from Andranik Bilbulyan from seven feet with 2:55 on the clock that tied it at 7-7.
Burbank will play in Irvine and against Carpinteria (22-4), which knocked off Downey 13-6 in the other semifinal.
David Arakelyan is Burbank’s coach and was pleased with everything he witnessed.
“To be a center and to sit out for most of the first half and to come in and score two big goals like that,” Arakelyan said of Kharazyan. “What a game. I’m so proud of our boys. The toughness to fight. That was a dogfight.”
Burbank’s defense has been a lynchpin all season long and it was against Buena and the crowd was helpful.
“Our all-around defense was awesome. That’s a huge crowd out here,” Arakelyan said of the atmosphere. “That was insane. I wasn’t expecting this many people, but that was awesome.”
Burbank’s goalie Narek Galamdaryan was sublime according to Arakelyan.
“Narek played great. It’s little things that I’ve been talking about all season with him,” he said. “We’ve been working on getting those things right and he’s done a great job of doing that. Our two losses this season were without Narek in goal. He’s got one more great win.”
Per usual, Burbank (22-2) was paced by Johnny Agazaryan, who totaled a team-best four goals.
Agazaryan, who averages seven goals a match this season, scored two coming in the opening quarter, one in the next frame and one in the third period.
The leading scorer for Buena (20-10) was Liam Besand, who knocked in five goals including two tallies in the fourth period that gave Buena a 7-6 lead with 6:42 left from five feet and then added a 10-footer with 59 seconds remaining that evened it at 8-8.
Burbank held a 2-1 edge at the end of the first quarter and the match was knotted at 4-4 at halftime.
Through three periods it was deadlocked at 6-6, but in the fourth frame Burbank tallied three goals while Buena had two.
The match began with Agazaryan scoring the first two goals including a 10-footer with 5:41 left and a tally from 12 feet with 2:11 on the ticker.
Besand’s five-footer with 1:01 remaining in the initial period sliced the lead to 2-1.
Besand’s 12-footer with 4:59 left in the second quarter knotted it at 2-2, but a 10-footer from Agazaryan twenty seconds later gave Burbank a 3-2 advantage.
Buena tied the match at 3-3 when Ethan Okun scored on a 10-foot toss and Nico Furneaux’s point-blank follow-up with 2:27 remaining gave Buena a 4-3 lead.
Zack Gezalyan’s nine-footer for Burbank with 1:21 left before halftime was the last tally of the second period.
Buena came out and collected the first two goals of the third quarter as Besand knocked in a seven-footer with 6:40 left for a 5-4 lead and Okun’s six-footer with 4:39 on the clock stretched Buena’s advantage to a two-goal lead at 6-4.
Burbank, which outshot Buena, 26-23 and 17-9 in the second half, sensed the match may be slipping away and responded in kind when Agazaryan added an eight-footer with 3:02 left that cut the lead to 6-5.
Kharazyan came alive with the first of three goals scored from seven feet as 2:21 remained and it was tied at 6-6.