Season openers can be tricky at times and it was for the Burbank High girls’ water polo team on Tuesday.
After an even opening half, the Bulldogs came on strong in the fourth quarter, but still lost to visiting Louisville in a nonleague affair, 7-6.
“They tried their hardest and they’re going to improve,” Burbank coach Allyson Young said. “It was more of a learning experience for some of the girls who haven’t played on the varsity after playing on the junior varsity. There’s a big difference.”
The game-winning tally came with 13 seconds left and was scored by Claire Iannetta on a back-handed throw from 10 feet.
The Bulldogs trailed 4-3 entering the final frame and then fell behind 6-3 on back-to-back goals from Emily Gaines, who finished with a match-best three tallies.
When Gaines scored with 5:22 left in the fourth period it became 5-3 and her shot with 4:44 left on the clock made it a three-goal lead.
But the Bulldogs, who were outshot 23-15, rallied with three consecutive goals to even it at 6-6.
Sophomore driver Michelle Morlock put in a five-meter penalty toss with 4:16 showing in the final period that trimmed the advantage to 6-4.
Burbank came within 6-5 on a score from junior driver Sune Aghakian on a 15-foot shot and 2:42 left.
Suddenly it was level at 6-6 after sophomore driver Camila Salas knocked one into the net from 15 feet as 43 seconds remained.
“They’re going to learn how to play together and they’re going to get much more comfortable,” Young said of her squad that has four seniors on a team of 10.
The Royals led 1-0 on a close-range shot from Rafaella Armeni with 2:48 on the clock in the opening frame only to see the Bulldogs even it at 1-1 on senior driver Stephanie O’Brien’s goal from three feet and 2:22 left.
Burbank took command 3-1 after senior driver Cynthia Abramian launched a 25-foot rainbow and 4:52 remaining to make it 2-1 and it swelled to 3-1 on a goal from seven-feet by Morlock with 3:19 left.
The Royals shaved the lead to 3-2 on a five-foot throw from Sophia Tsavallas and 2:20 showing before the intermission and then evened it at 3-3 when Gaines scored off a rebound with 1:14 remaining.
“I think we were a little more conditioned and that worked to our advantage,” Louisville coach Kendra Klein said. “I had no idea what to expect because I didn’t scout Burbank. But they’re a scrappy team.”
There was only one goal scored in the third stanza and that was off a rebound effort by Tsavallas with 1:46 left.
“I gave them [the team] the key and for the most part they executed the game plan,” Klein said.