By Rick Assad
With the game in the balance, senior utility David Arakelyan came to the rescue for the Burroughs High boys’ water polo team.
In the waning moments of Tuesday’s CIF Southern Section Division III first-round playoff match against visiting Beckman, Arakelyan tossed in his match-best eighth goal which helped the Indians survive 12-11.
Arakelyan’s eight-footer came with 1:36 left and gave the Indians a one-goal advantage.
“This is a tough team. They have a really good goalie. They have really good offensive weapons,” Arakelyan said. “We wanted to come out strong like we did against Hoover.”
Arakelyan spoke about the brief lull that Burroughs experienced late in the third quarter when the Patriots scored five straight goals.
“When we were up big I think we got comfortable,” he said. “They scored five or six goals in a row. I just wanted to take over the game. I wanted to get in there and help my team out. It’s Division III. It’s harder than Division V so we want to go as far as we can.”
Arakelyan thinks the team is capable of getting to the title game. “Ultimately to the championship or the semifinals would be satisfying,” he said. “This is a tough team. They’re ranked No. 6 and for us unranked to pull out a win is amazing.”
Burroughs, which captured its first Pacific League championship since 1995 and won the Division V title in 2016, has a second-round encounter at home on Thursday.
“They had a good run back against us,” Burroughs coach Jacob Cook said. “The defense held out in the final quarter. We stayed resilient and we got them in the final few minutes of the game.”
Still there was enough time for the Patriots to rally, but the Indians (15-12) played solid defense the rest of the match.
“Our guys got tired,” Cook said. “They got some momentum and they came back on us a little bit.”
The fray was deadlocked at 4-4 after the opening quarter, but saw the Indians dart in front 5-4 at the half and lead 10-9 heading into the fourth period.
The Patriots scored the first two goals when senior Aviv Zohman, who finished with six goals, tossed in a five-meter penalty shot with 5:24 remaining and added a six-footer 23 seconds later.
Arakelyan’s eight-footer with 4:15 left in the period sliced Beckman’s lead to 2-1, but senior Baylor Reynoso’s six-footer with four minutes left gave the Patriots, who finished third in the rugged Pacific Coast League, a 3-1 edge.
When senior setter/defender Arthur Sefayan scored on a six-footer and 3:41 on the clock the Indians drew within 3-2.
Arakelyan’s 10-footer with 2:20 showing evened it at 3-3, but Zohman’s 10-foot blast supplied Beckman with a 4-3 cushion.
Burroughs tied it at 4-4 on an eight-footer from senior utility J.J. Ambartsumyan.
The Patriots moved ahead 5-4 on an eight-footer from sophomore Eli Schwartz with 4:39 left in the second quarter.
Ambartsumyan’s 10-footer 19 seconds later evened it at 5-5 and Arakelyan’s 25-foot rainbow with 3:26 on the timer made it 6-5.
Burroughs scored the first four goals of the third frame with Arakelyan knocking home an eight-footer with 6:35 left that made it 7-5, a seven-footer with 5:19 on the clock for a 9-5 advantage and a five-footer with 4:54 left that made it 10-5.
The Patriots (17-12) proved their worth by scoring the final four goals of the third quarter with Zohman tallying two that included a rocket from six feet with 4:45 left that cut the lead to 10-6 and a three-footer with 12 seconds remaining that trimmed the margin to 10-9 heading into the final frame.
Zohman’s three-footer with 6:30 in the fourth quarter evened it at 10-10 and Reynoso’s three-foot tally and 3:37 left handed the Patriots an 11-10 edge.