Looking to inch closer to a second straight Pacific League championship, a chance to create separation loomed for the Burbank High boys’ water polo team.
The Bulldogs were aware of the opportunity at hand and knew what needed to be done to further distance themselves from their challenging league foes.
Burbank led from start to finish, as Zack Gezalyan finished with a team-high five goals to spur visiting Burbank to a 14-6 league victory against Crescenta Valley on Tuesday at Glendale High.
Burbank (22-2, 5-0 in league) held a one-match lead over Crescenta Valley (10-12, 3-2) entering Tuesday’s match at the brand-new aquatics complex. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 10 in CIF Southern Section Division II, never gave the Falcons the chance to catch them with two regular-season matches remaining for both squads.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking because we saw CV last month in the Chino Hills Tournament and we beat them, 12-6,” said Burbank coach David Arakelyan, who led the Bulldogs to an appearance in the Division V championship match last season. “I knew both teams were going to be charged up and ready to go and we needed to push hard and get the lead because we are so much better when we have a lead.
“You always know CV will be hard to play against. Both teams were going to change things up from the first time we saw them. We had to get the lead and build on it.”
Burbank received three goals from Arman Hovhanissyan and two from Gevorg Choginyan to support Gezalyan.
Gezalyan scored two goals 79 seconds apart in the first quarter to give Burbank a 2-0 lead before Crescenta Valley cut the deficit to 2-1 on a goal by Alex Movsesyan with 4:21 left.
Hovhanissyan made it 3-1 with 2:22 to play in the first quarter.
“CV pushed us in the first quarter,” Gezalyan said. “I think we were able to do a good job and pull away a little more in the second quarter.
“I thought we played a lot better in the third quarter, and we had the momentum in the fourth quarter. We knew if we could win, then we’d be a step closer to winning the league and being the top seed [in the league tournament].”
The Bulldogs made it 5-1 on a goal by Choginyan with 4:46 remaining in the second quarter. Crescenta Valley pulled to within 5-3 on a man-advantage goal by Daron Alexanians with 2:37 to go in the first half.
Andranik Bibbulyan capped the first-half scoring to make it 8-4 with six seconds left.
Burbank limited Crescenta Valley to two second goals and Burbank goalkeeper Alec Chalkdzhyan finished with nine saves, including five in the second half.
Gezalyan tallied his final two goals in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs got one goal apiece from Hayk Atanasyan, Bibulyan and Rafael Gevorgyan.
Burbank will participate in a league match at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Hoover before meeting cross-town rival Burroughs at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at Burroughs.
The league tournament will be held Oct. 25 and 27 at Glendale High.
“The league is a lot better than I expected,” Arakelyan said. “The competition is a lot better and we’ll try to be the top seed. We might even play CV again.”