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Nitros bring home CIF title at long last

Water Polo: Dynamite win by Glendale brings school its first CIF plaque since 1989.

November 23, 2013|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com
  • Glendale High boys' water polo coach Forest Holbrook and Armon Momdzhyan share a hug after the Nitros beat Los Altos in the CIF Southern Section Division V championship match at Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine on Saturday. (Kevin Chang/Staff Photographer)
Glendale High boys' water polo coach Forest Holbrook…

It was a moment that hadn't occurred in nearly 25 years - a Glendale High sports team receiving a CIF championship plaque and hoisting it in the air while celebrating in front of its ardent fans.

Occasionally, the Nitros got close to winning a title by advancing to the semifinals or finals. However, they would go on to endure their share of heartbreak.

Heartbreak turned into jubilation late Saturday afternoon when top-seeded Glendale posted a 13-11 victory against second-seeded Los Altos in the CIF Southern Section Division V championship match at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center.

Glendale won its first boys' water polo crown and became the first Nitros team to win a CIF title since the boys' volleyball squad beat Harvard-Westlake in 1989.

For those affiliated with the school for more than 20 years, like Pat Lancaster, a former boys' water polo coach and the school's current athletic director, elation never felt finer.

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“I've been here at Glendale since 1990,” Lancaster said following a team celebration ceremony on the pool deck. “I coached the boys' water polo team [for three stints] and we had some very good teams along the way.

“With this team, they have a very strong starting lineup and a stud at every single position. They learned what it takes to win. For the school, this is one for the history books. It's great not only for the team, but for the school and community.”

Glendale (22-6) suffered a 12-10 loss to Pasadena Poly in the championship match last season at the same venue. The Nitros, who won their third straight undefeated Pacific League championship, overcame the sting from that defeat and channeled their attention to Los Altos (21-11).

Glendale featured a strong nucleus of talent that included Arman Momdzhyan, Manuk Piloyan and Artak Arzumanyan to spearhead a championship drive under the guidance of fifth-year coach Forest Holbrook.

For Momdzhyan, a senior utility player, Saturday's victory wrapped up 12 months of hard work and a moment he could savor.

“We wanted to come out and make history,” said Momdzhyan, who finished with a team-high six goals before picking up his third ejection with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Nitros clinging to a 12-10 advantage. “We've won league, but we wanted to do something even better.

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