By Rick Assad
It wasn’t quite a goal a minute, but it sure was close when the Burroughs High girls’ water polo team faced arch-rival and much-improved Burbank in a Pacific League match on Wednesday afternoon.
After 28 minutes of action, the Bears accounted for a 23-6 triumph over the Bulldogs with the stands nearly full as Nancy Baylor scored six of her game-best nine goals in the first half as the hosts led 13-4.
And with the victory, Burroughs, which led 5-3 after the first period, can now lay claim to yet another league banner.
“We played well offensively by passing the ball and getting it where it needed to go,” Burroughs coach Jacob Cook said. “Defensively we made it hard for them to move the ball and it worked to shut them down. I’m glad to have another league [title] under our belt.”
Makenna Palamara was the next high scorer for the Bears as she tossed in seven goals that included four tallies in the fourth period.
Clarisa Robles ended the game with five goals and delivered four winners in the opening half.
“Playing and beating our rival is always a great feeling. Winning on senior night especially was great since it was mine and the other seniors’ last Burbank versus Burroughs game,” Robles said. “It’s the game that all of us are the most excited for. The crowd that it draws especially helps us have more energy and want to win.”
Senior guard Julie Kim scored a team-high three goals for the Bulldogs (10-10 and 4-3 in league) with all of them coming over the first 14 minutes.
“Julie makes me proud to be her coach,” Burbank coach Melani Aghazarian said. “She can’t do it all, but she tries, and she cares and she is tenacious and truly a presence in the water.”
Palamara’s seven-footer with 6:22 left began the scoring, but Kim struck from 12 feet just 24 seconds later to even it at 1-1.
A three-meter penalty shot by Robles with 4:25 remaining made it 2-1 and Kim’s five-meter penalty toss twenty seconds later leveled it at 2-2.
The Bears (10-4 and 5-0 in league) outscored the Bulldogs 3-1 over the next 3:53 as Baylor had a 12-footer to make it 3-2 and Baylor’s 10-footer with 3:05 on the clock extended the lead to 4-2.
“I think we’re all shooters on the team and I think when we put it together and we all start working together and we give each other opportunities and we work for each other, things start happening and we just rack up the goals,” Baylor said of the high number of goals scored. “It’s because we all know how to work with each other, and we have a big connection as a team.”
A goal from five feet with 59 seconds left by Burbank’s Parelie Baghdasarianss sliced the margin to 4-3, but a five-meter penalty shot by Robles with nine seconds left ended the frame at 5-3.
“We are just a less experienced team than Burroughs,” Aghazarian said. “A lot of my girls are first time water polo players, and we don’t have any girls who play club. We worked with what we had and especially since not having our own pool this year and practicing in a recreation pool, so I’m far from upset.”
COVID-19 has been around for nearly two years come March, and it’s been a roadblock for the Bulldogs.
“Because of COVID, my girls didn’t practice for over a year,” Aghazarian said. “My girls didn’t do their best [today], but they’ve improved so much throughout the season, so I’m so proud of them.”
The Bears found the back of the cage three straight times to begin the second period and led 8-3 as Robles drilled an eight-footer with 5:39 left to make it 6-3.
It swelled to 7-3 on Baylor’s nine-footer with 4:35 on the clock and a seven-foot tally by Robles extended the cushion to 8-3 as 4:11 remained.
Burbank broke the spell and trimmed the margin to 8-4 when Kim scored on a six-footer with 3:50 on the ticker.
The Bears capped the second quarter by scoring the last five goals as Palamara located the back of the cage on a five-foot toss as 3:27 remained to make it 9-4.
Isabella Medina then found the net on an eight-footer with 2:40 left for a 10-4 edge.
Baylor accounted for the final three scores as she rifled in a seven-foot backhander with 2:00 on the ticker that made it 11-4 and added an eight-footer with 1:11 left for a 12-4 advantage.
Baylor’s five-meter penalty throw with 33 seconds left saw the Bears move ahead 13-4.
It was more of the same in the third quarter as the Bears outscored the Bulldogs 3-1 and took a 16-5 lead into the fourth frame.
Baylor found the net as she knocked in a five-footer with 6:34 left to make it 14-4 and Kelly Long added to the barrage on a 10-foot laser with 3:19 showing for a 15-4 edge.
When senior utility Vana Matevosian scored for Burbank on a seven-footer and 1:33 left, the Bulldogs drew within 15-5, but Palamara’s six-footer 15 seconds later made it 16-5.
Palamara then scored four goals in the fourth period and they came with 6:03 left on a five-footer for an 18-5 cushion and on a six-footer with 5:27 left on the clock that made it 19-5.
Palamara tacked on a five-footer with 1:40 left for a 22-5 lead and a seven-footer with 48 seconds remaining on the scoreboard that made it 23-5.
Baylor’s nine-footer with 3:58 showing extended the Bears’ lead to 20-5 and then contributed a six-footer with 2:11 showing that made it 21-5.
A 12-footer from Robles with 6:48 left opened the scoring in the fourth frame and extended the advantage to 17-5.
“I feel that I did well this game and helped our team early in the first quarter where the tone is set for how the rest of the game will play out,” Robles said of the match. “All of us did our part in this game, especially on defense because we were able to get Burbank to run down their shot clock and getting those turnovers. I was very pleased with how we all worked together and always kept each other going in the water as we always do.”
Burbank’s lone tally in the quarter came on a 20-foot strike from junior utility/goalie Valentina Angel with 44 seconds on the clock which trimmed the lead to 23-6.