Last season, the Burroughs High girls’ water polo team captured the Pacific League championship and qualified for the CIF postseason.
Across town, Burbank finished near the bottom of league and below the playoff cutline.
With a group of key returners in the fold, the Bears and Bulldogs will look to appear in the playoffs in February. Both programs will bring back their respective coaches from last season.
On a bright note, Burroughs and Burbank recently received consideration from the CIF Southern Section by being tabbed to the watch list in Divisions III and V, respectively.
Here’s a closer look at the teams.
Under veteran coach Jacob Cook, the Bears went 11-5, 7-1 in league for first place. Burroughs saw its postseason cut short early following a 15-13 defeat against Esperanza in a CIF Southern Section Division III first-round match.
Cook, who led the boys’ water polo squad to a postseason appearance in the fall, said the Bears haven’t discussed at length about looking to win a second consecutive league title.
“It’s always a goal or ours and it would be amazing if we could do it again,” said Cook, who led the school’s girls’ swimming team to a Division IV crown last spring. “I don’t know much about our league this season, but it’s always doing well.
“We have some solid players and some players with size that should help a lot. We also have some sophomores. I just think we’ll have a pretty good overall team. We have some time to put things together because we don’t play until Dec. 2.”
Burroughs will be anchored by senior utility players Nancy Baylor and Ana Zubkoff, senior goalkeeper Mindy Hernandez, sophomore attacker Sarah Metry and sophomore utility Ava Tomlinson.
Last season, Burbank finished 9-11, 2-5 in league to tie for fifth place with Hoover.
Though its season ended sooner than expected, Burbank coach Melani Aghazarian and her players have turned the page and seek a brighter future.
“Last year in a lot of our league games, we were right there. We were so close,” Aghazarian said. “We just couldn’t finish.
“We want to learn from that this year and I think we will. I think we’ll be just as competitive, if not more. Our players are super hungry to get back at it and they’ve been working hard at practice. We’ll be a younger team, but we’ll look to use that as a positive.”
The Bears will rely on senior utility players Valentina Angel and Makala Kelley, senior attacker Rebecca Zakarian, senior goalkeeper Elen Amiryan, junior defender Natalie Bislamyan and sophomore hole/set Lizzie Bislamyan.