Mata Comes Up Large To Spur Burroughs Boys’ Water Polo Past South Pasadena

Junior goalkeeper finishes with 14 saves - including two on five-meter shots - to lift host Bears to 12-6 nonleague win versus Tigers.

(Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

Atticus Mata had plenty to ponder in between facing a barrage of shots.

The Burroughs High boys’ water polo player also realized he couldn’t flinch while guarding the cage in a close match. He never backed away.

Mata registered 14 saves – including two on five-meter attempts – to propel host Burroughs to a 12-6 win against South Pasadena on Tuesday.

Mata stopped the first five-meter attempt with Burroughs (8-7) trailing by a goal in the second quarter before accomplishing the feat again in the third quarter with the Bears leading by one goal.

(Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

No problem for Mata, a junior.

“When you are a goalie, there are a lot of thoughts going through your brain,” Mata said. “You have to trust your brain. First, you are trying to guess where the shooter might go with the ball, and then you are basically looking in their eyes. You also have to be in the right position based on your feelings.

“I think we underestimated South Pasadena in the first half. We played a lot better in the second half and we blocked some shots. Then we were also able to get some goals.”

The Bears pulled to within 6-5 on a goal by Logan Turla with 2:16 remaining in the second quarter.

On the ensuing possession, South Pasadena (1-6) was awarded a five-meter shot. Mata turned aside the attempt by Kenta Fernandes with 1:52 to go in the first half.

Burroughs took a 7-6 lead on a goal by Harrison Siegel with 5:42 left in the third quarter before Mata had the task of having to stop another five-meter shot.

Mata blocked a shot by Theo Hilgen with 4:29 remaining in the quarter to preserve the lead.

“He is such a great goalie,” said Burroughs coach Jacob Cook, who led Burroughs to a CIF Southern Section Division V championship in 2016. “He’s got that grit and aggressiveness about him.

“He’s not afraid of the ball, blocking shots, or going out to get a steal when needed. Those two stops on the five-meter shots were huge and they gave us momentum. He’s one of the best goalkeepers at Burroughs over the last 10-15 years.”

The Bears outscored the Tigers, 7-0, in the second half.

Burroughs, which placed fourth in the Pacific League last season behind Arcadia, Glendale and Crescenta Valley before falling to Flintridge Prep in a Division III first-round match, scored four goals in less than four minutes late in the third quarter to build an 11-6 advantage. Turla (match-high four goals) had two goals in that stretch, with the first giving the Bears an 8-6 lead with 4:08 left.

Turla wrapped up the scoring with 3:46 to play in the fourth quarter.

Burroughs received three goals from Siegel, two each from Nicolas Oporta and Ian Duffield, and one from Dean Yuzna.

Hilgen finished with two goals for South Pasadena, which got one each from Fernandes, Jackson Wingard, Kyler Ho, and Diego Pizarro.