By Rick Assad
Employing the notion that two heads are better than one seemingly worked to perfection for the Burroughs High boys’ water polo team on Wednesday afternoon.
The Bears may have been a slight underdog in the Pacific League regular season finale, but a second half surge helped Burroughs defeat visiting Burbank 10-7.
The win ensured that the Bears finished first in league and will have a bye in the league playoffs which will take place over three days instead of the usual two which it had been.
The offense was designed by Burroughs co-head coach Martin Ortega Jennison, and it called for spreading the players to spots in which they would have the perceived advantage.
The defensive strategy was suggested and designed by junior goalie Atticus Mata.
Junior Harrison Siegel led the offensive charge with a match-best five goals including three in the second half while junior Ian Duffield added two second-half tallies for the Bears.
On the day, Mata swatted away at least a half-dozen and stuffed several more attempts.
“The defense was designed by Atticus,” Ortega Jennison noted. “He said he felt that he would be able to block their shots or knock them away.”
The match was tied 2-2 after one period, 4-4 at the half before the Bears outscored the Bulldogs 6-3 in the second half.
Burroughs’ offense found enough clear shooting lanes for much of the day but was still outshot 28-20 by Burbank.
Siegel’s long-range 27-yarder with two seconds left in the first period evened the match at 2-2.
Burbank junior Daniel Agazaryan started off the scoring with a five-meter penalty shot with 6:26 left in the initial frame for a 1-0 lead and Burbank (17-10 and 5-2 in league for second place) moved ahead 2-0 on a seven-yard tally from junior Avet Avetisyan with 5:47 left in the same quarter.
“I just thought we could’ve done a lot more and we didn’t,” Burbank coach and onetime Burroughs standout David Arakelyan said. “Credit to Burroughs for pulling out the W [win].”
Burroughs junior Logan Turla’s 15-yard counter with 1:57 left cut the lead to 2-1.
Avetisyan scored on a five-yard with 3:45 left in the second quarter as the Bulldogs led 3-2.
Siegel’s three-meter penalty toss leveled it at 3-3 with 2:21 in the second period.
Burroughs junior Dean Yuzna nailed a 12-yarder with 1:36 left in the first half that handed Burroughs (14-12 and 6-1 for first place in league) a 4-3 lead.
With 36 seconds remaining in the second quarter, a beautiful two-yard tip by Avetisyan tied it at 4-4.
Burbank began the scoring in the third period when senior Andranik Bilbulyan hit a five-yarder with 6:18 left for a 5-4 edge.
Burroughs then tallied back-to-back goals and they came from Siegel on a 12-yarder with six minutes left that evened it at 5-5 and Duffield on a 14-yarder with 2:33 left on the clock for a 6-5 lead.
Bilbulyan’s 10-yarder and 1:31 remaining in the third period tied it at 6-6.
Yuzna’s two-yarder with 57 seconds left broke the stalemate as the Bears marched in front 7-6.
Siegel scored on a 15-yarder as 6:34 was left in the match as the Bears led 8-6, but Siegel missed a five-meter penalty shot with 5:02 on the clock.
Agazaryan’s 10-yarder found the back of the net with 3:46 left that sliced the Bears’ cushion to 8-7, but Siegel’s five-meter penalty throw and 1:05 on the ticker increased the Bears’ lead to 9-7 and Duffield’s 15-yarder and twenty seconds left made it a three-goal advantage.