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Glendale High boys' water polo returns to championship with win over Walnut

Water polo: Nitros fend off late rally to defeat Walnut, in semifinals on Wednesday.

November 20, 2013|By Andrew J. Campa,
  • Glendale High goalkeeper Daniel Sarkissian stops a shot by Walnut in a CIF-SS boys' water polo Division V semifinal match at Mt. San Antonio College on Wednesday. Glendale won the match, 16-12. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Glendale High goalkeeper Daniel Sarkissian stops a shot…

WALNUT — At times battling itself as much as its opponent, the Glendale High boys’ water polo team was far from perfect at Wednesday evening’s CIF Southern Section Division V semifinal playoff match at Mt. San Antonio College.

The problem for Walnut High, and for Los Altos come Saturday, is that even an imperfect Nitros team is downright difficult, if not unbeatable.

PHOTOS: Glendale vs. Walnut CIF boys' water polo semifinals

Glendale proved that by overcoming 20 turnovers and bouts of complacency in knocking off Hacienda League runner-up Walnut, 16-12, to return to the divisional championship for a second straight year.

The top-ranked Nitros (21-6) will face second-seeded Los Altos (21-10), the Hacienda League champion, for a third time this season in Saturday’s divisional championship game at 2:30 p.m. at Irvine’s William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center.

The three-time defending Pacific League champion Nitros will also attempt to win a crown after just missing in last year’s 12-10 title game loss to Pasadena Poly.


“We relaxed today and that’s disappointing. When you build a five-goal lead, you’ve got to finish,” Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook said. “We eased off the pedal, but we’re going to learn from this and be ready Saturday.”

Glendale, which once owned a 6-1 advantage after a goal from utility player Manuk Piloyan (five goals, three steals and two assists) at the 5:08 mark in the second quarter, found its lead sliced to 12-10 with 1:45 left in the third quarter thanks to a goal from the Mustangs’ Esteban Martinez created off an assist from Jeffrey Silverberg.

While Glendale countered with a goal from Artak Arzumanyan (four goals, five assists and two assists) off an assist from Arman Momdzhyan with 18.8 seconds remaining, Walnut seemed to have all the momentum when Silverberg netted a goal just before time expired, which brought Walnut within 13-11 by the quarter’s close.

“Our boys battled. They really, really wanted this game and I’m so proud of how they fought,” Mustangs Coach Mike Rieben said. “They were really close and they gave everything they had.”

Walnut opened the fourth quarter forcing two Glendale turnovers and taking five shots on the team’s first three possessions.

Yet, Glendale survived the Mustangs’ flurry unscathed and answered back with both its defense and offense.

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