The Burroughs High boys’ water polo team created a motto called Road to Ring.
Wednesday evening the third-seeded Indians moved within one step a CIF Southern Section championship ring, as they defeated second-seeded La Canada 9-7 at Pasadena City College.
“We didn’t expect to get this far, but Road to Ring is still out there,” said JJ Ambartsumyan.
Burroughs coach Jacob Cook said the team has far exceeded his expectations.
“It’s surreal right now,” Cook said. “The Road to Ring that they started at the beginning of the season, I was like ‘oh yeah guys’, but then we beat Notre Dame and then we started our season.”
Burroughs (27-6) will face San Juan Hills of San Juan Capistrano (21-9) in the championship match Saturday at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine. San Juan Hills defeated top-seeded Corona 8-6 in the other semifinal match.
Burroughs and La Canada (22-8) were in a tight battle until the third quarter when the Indians built a lead and were able to hold off the Spartans in the end.
Aram Nordanyan got Burroughs on the board at the 4:59 mark of the first quarter when he took an Eric Aperian pass and put it into the right corner of the goal.
La Canada tied things with a goal by George Avakian at the 3:56 mark of the first quarter.
David Arakelyan gave Burroughs a 2-1 lead when he scored a long distance goal. But Avakian countered less than a minute later.
Aperian set up Jerry Solano, who scored at the 4:03 mark of the second quarter to give Burroughs a 3-2 advantage.
La Canada rallied to tie things up, before Arakelyan gave the Indians 4-3 advantage 49 seconds before halftime by shooting the ball off the water and into the lower left corner.
It appeared at first that the teams would be tied at halftime as La Canada scored with nine seconds left.
However that goal was waved off after it was determined that a Burroughs player who had been off from an exclusion was wrongly not waved back on following the end of the 20-second penalty.
Arakelyan and Hambartsumyan helped open things up as they combined to score the first three goals of the third quarter. Hambartsumyan added his third goal of the third period at the 3:21 mark to make it 8-4.
La Canada fought back and got within 8-7 before Hambartsumyan scored with 4:16 left. It was the final goal of the match.
“We prepared very well for this game,” Hambartsumyan said. “We were glad that we made Burroughs history passing the semifinal.”
Cook applauded his team.
“I know the talent these guys have. They made it happen,” he said. “We’re super proud and super excited we can represent our school.”