Burbank Boys’ Water Polo Wins Playoff Game, Ends Season

Bulldogs win second straight league championship with 14-11 victory against Arcadia.

(Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

Editor’s Note: Burbank High Principal made the following announcement Friday morning:

“On Wednesday, October 19, 2022, Burbank High School was made aware of a potential ineligibility issue regarding players on the BHS water polo team who transferred to Burbank High School this year. Based on the findings of the Southern Section CIF, we have been informed that some of our players will be found ineligible to play this year due to an issue of self-disclosed pre-enrollment contact with a coach at Burbank High School. As a result, Burbank High School must forfeit its wins this season that were won when these ineligible players competed.  

Burbank High School and the Burbank Unified School District are confident that no coaches, administrators, athletic directors, officials, or staff members made errors during the transfer process.  This was strictly an issue of self-disclosure.  In order to educate all stakeholders regarding the proper transfer process, Burbank High School will be working with CIF to provide workshops on the importance of full disclosure on official transfer documents. 

Our hearts go out to our players, coaches, parents, and community. We know that this is a learning opportunity for all and a chance to build an even stronger water polo program for Burbank High School in the future.”

This was myBurbank’s game coverage from their playoff game on Thursday. We still wanted to run to acknowledge the players who participated. We will have a future story about the incident later.

It didn’t figure to be an easy task to complete after several lofty expectations had been outlined before the season began.

Yet, the Burbank High boys’ water polo team was there, in the end, to check off one of its desired goals – a second straight undefeated Pacific League championship.

Led by a match-high 10 goals from standout Zack Gezalyan, including six in the second half, No. 1 seed Burbank posted a 14-11 victory against No. 2 Arcadia in the league’s title match Thursday at Glendale High.

(Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

The Bulldogs (26-2, 9-0 in league) have enjoyed plenty of success the last two seasons, including advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division V championship match last season for the first time in program history.

Burbank found itself Thursday in a struggle with Arcadia (19-9, 5-3) in the first half before breaking away in the second half.

“It’s such a huge goal for our players and the program moving forward,” said Burbank coach David Arakelyan, whose team will participate in the Division III playoffs after the pairings for all six divisions are unveiled at 9 a.m. Saturday. “It’s huge for us with the history of the Pacific League and all the great teams and players that have been a part of it through the years. We’re just trying to add to that list.

“I think experience played a big factor tonight. Arcadia hadn’t been to the league final in a few years, and we were there last year. That experience came into play for us when we looked to pull away in the second half.”

Burbank tied the match at five on a goal by Gezalyan with 24 seconds remaining in the first half.

Arcadia took an 8-7 lead on a five-meter goal by Jaden Joemtree with 3:12 to go in the third quarter before Gezalyan went to work by scoring three straight goals in less than three minutes late in the quarter to give the Bulldogs a 10-8 advantage.

Gezalyan added three more goals in the fourth quarter, capping his stalwart effort with a goal with 46 seconds left in the match to make it 14-11.

“We came in expecting a close game,” Gezalyan said. “We stepped it up in the third quarter, and we got in a rhythm. It was an excellent opportunity to win a second straight undefeated league title, and it’s really good that we were able to do that.”

Burbank, which opened the tournament Tuesday with a 9-6 victory against No. 4 Crescenta Valley, received two goals from Arthur Saryan and one apiece from Eric Avetisyan and Danny Agazaryan.

“We were able to find and score on our open shots,” Saryan said. “It’s amazing to win back-to-back titles.”

Arcadia, which registered a 12-8 semifinal win against No. 3 Glendale on Tuesday, got a team-high six goals from Joemtree. The Apaches scored four five-meter goals Thursday, including three from Joemtree.

It marked the second victory for Burbank against Arcadia this season. The Bulldogs posted a 14-8 win at Arcadia on Oct. 4.

Burbank, Arcadia, Glendale, and Crescenta Valley will represent the league in the postseason.

In the tournament’s fifth-place match, Burroughs picked up a 13-7 victory versus Hoover.


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