First published in the Nov. 6 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
After winning the Pacific League for the first time since 1969, Burbank High School’s varsity boys’ water polo team advanced to the CIF-SS Division 5 quarterfinals with an 18-6 victory over visiting Cathedral High of Los Angeles on Thursday.
The Pacific League champion Bulldogs dominated early and built a 10-2 lead in the first half, from which Cathedral could never recover.
The second quarter was Burbank’s strongest by far, as it scored seven goals while holding Cathedral scoreless. Johnny Agazaryan scored three goals in the quarter, while Hayk Atanasyan added two and Hovannes Baboudjian and Andranik Bilbulyan each scored once. Meanwhile, goalie Alec Chalkdzhyan recorded two saves in the final minute to maintain Burbank’s quarter shutout.
Before pulling away in the first half, the first quarter was a close battle before the Bulldogs shifted into overdrive.
Johnny Agazaryan and Baboudjian opened the match with three goals before Cathedral answered back with two of its own to end the first quarter, 3-2.
“I think the first quarter we were a little slow,” said David “Davo” Arakelyan, Burbank’s head coach. “We went up 3-0, but we let them score two quick goals and it was kind of a good wake-up call for us. We got to start a little faster and stronger next time.”
The Bulldogs’ defense was outstanding in the first three quarters, holding Cathedral to an average of one goal per quarter. The defense was superb in the third as goalies Narek Galamdaryan and Christian Lazaryan combined for five saves.
Meanwhile, Burbank extended its lead to 13-3 in the third quarter behind Andy Gezalyan, Johnny Agazaryan and Sevan Mahdessian.
Johnny Agazaryan was terrific on both ends of the ball, recording seven goals and five steals, both team-highs.
“He’s great. He’s been consistent for us all season in terms of going up and down the pool … and he’s just been a big help offensively and defensively,” Arakelyan said. “Today, offensively, he carried the load.”
Baboudjian and Atanasyan scored three and two goals, respectively, while Andy Gezalyan, Mahdessian, Bilbulyan, Danny Agazaryan, Arthur Saryan and Eric Avetisyan each scored once.
The Bulldogs played well as a unit, evident by the team’s 16 assists. Zack Gezalyan had four, while Johnny Agazaryan and Bilbulyan each had three. Baboudjian added two assists while Atanasyan, Saryan, Chalkdzhyan and Davit Vahanyan had one each.
All three of Burbank’s goalies saw action in the match and recorded a combined 10 saves. Galamdaryan and Lazaryan each had four saves, while Chalkdzhyan had two.
The Bulldogs were aggressive in the pool, recording 24 steals. Behind Johnny Agazaryan, Zack Gezalyan, Robert Kharazyan, Vahanyan, Avetik Barsegyan, Chalkdzhyan, Lazaryan and Saryan each recorded two steals. Meanwhile, Mahdessian, Atanasyan, Baboudjian, Galamdaryan and Danny Agazaryan each added one steal.
The heavyweight Bulldogs, who finished first in the Pacific League with an 8-0 record (20-2 overall), will visit Valley View High (18-12 overall) in Moreno Valley today, Nov. 6, at noon. If Burbank wins, it will advance to the CIF semifinals this Wednesday, Nov. 10, to play either Ventura Buena (19-9) or Tustin (18-9).