Knowing the importance of the match, the Burroughs High boys’ water polo team needed a victory in order to avoid being in a three-way tie with Crescenta Valley and Hoover for first place in the Pacific League.
Try as they might, the Indians still lost to the visiting Falcons 12-9 on Thursday afternoon.
Senior utility David Arakelyan and senior setter Marko Vucetic each scored three goals for the Indians, who finish the regular season on Wednesday at Burbank.
The league preliminaries will be held on Oct. 24 and the finals on Oct. 26 at Arcadia.
Even though the Falcons (17-5 and 4-1 in league) were outshot in the first quarter 9-5, they led 2-0 on a goal by Alec Abrahamian from eight feet with 5:03 left and an eight-footer from Bodoe Wyss with 1:01 on the clock.
Arakelyan’s 12-footer trimmed Crescenta Valley’s lead to 2-1 with 16 seconds on the ticker, but Noah Kim’s 10-foot blast with two seconds remaining made it 3-1.
“They shut us down early defensively in the first quarter,” said Arakelyan. “I think in that second quarter we went on a 4-0 run. Kind of got momentum back on our side. We just couldn’t cash in on the third and fourth quarter. They [CV] really clamped down on defense.”
The Falcons came out determined in the second frame and outshot Burroughs (12-11 and 4-1 in league) 10-8 and led 6-5 at the half.
A Wyss tally from six feet and 6:31 left made it 4-1, but Burroughs scored four consecutive goals and forged a 5-4 lead.
Arakelyan’s five-footer with 5:36 left sliced the margin to 4-2 and Vucetic’s two-footer with 4:49 remaining cut it to 4-3.
When Arakelyan scored from five feet and 4:31 left, it was even at 4-4.
Vucetic’s five-footer with 3:51 remaining gave the Indians a 5-4 edge.
CV tallied two straight goals, including Kim’s five-footer with 2:50 left that tied it at 5-5 and Kurtis McNevin’s seven-footer with 47 seconds on the buzzer for a 6-5 cushion.
“We had opportunities,” said Burroughs coach Jacob Cook, whose team took the CIF Southern Section Division V championship in 2016 and second place in league behind Hoover. “We couldn’t put them in. They played a great game. We’re going to make adjustments in practice and be ready for the league tournament.”
Once again, the Falcons were offensive-minded as they came out in the third period and outshot Burroughs 9-7.
David Komjathy scored all of his three goals in the third stanza for the Falcons including a 10-footer with 6:37 remaining that made it 7-5.
Komjathy’s four-footer with 5:04 left pushed the Falcons ahead 9-6 and added a 15-footer with 2:11 left for a 10-6 lead.
“Defense wins games. If a team can’t score, they can’t win,” Komjathy explained. “You just gotta play as a team, too. There’s six people on the field, one player in the goal. You just gotta play together. Play smart. Water polo is a mental game.”
Kim’s two-foot, back-handed laser with 5:42 remaining gave the Falcons an 8-5 lead.
“Always our first priority is defense,” Crescenta Valley coach Jan Sakonju said. “That’s something that every team we’ve had at CV is focused on.”
Senior utility J.J. Ambartsumyan’s 10-foot rocket and 5:23 left shaved CV’s lead to 8-6.
Senior setter/defender Arthur Sefayan’s eight-footer with 41 seconds left saw the Indians get within 10-7.
Each team scored a pair of goals in the final stanza, including Vucetic’s from five feet as 5:27 remained and lowered CV’s margin to 10-8.
Sefayan’s five-footer with 1:31 showing enabled the Indians to climb within 11-9.
Crescenta Valley had goals from McNevin from eight feet and 5:05 that made it 11-8 and McNevin’s five-meter penalty shot with 1:07 moved the Falcons in front 12-9.