BURBANK – With its most productive player sidelined with an injury, Burbank High's boys' water polo team wondered how it would perform without the services of top scorer Dante Nazarian.
And the Bulldogs would have to find that out against cross-town rival Burroughs.
The Bulldogs' Arthur Mheryan wanted to make sure he did his part to fill in for his injured teammate. Despite suffering through a slow start, the Bulldogs came on in the second half, receiving a match-high six goals from Mheryan to turn back the Indians, 10-4, on Wednesday in a Pacific League contest at Burbank.
"With our best player not playing, Dante, we were a little nervous coming in," said Mheryan, who tallied all six of his goals in the second half. "We knew it was going to be hard without him. But we all just had to step up our game and make up for him as much as we could."
There wasn't much more than pride and city bragging rights on the line in Wednesday's match. Burroughs (7-10, 1-5 in league) had already been eliminated from the CIF Southern Section Division V playoff picture prior to the contest. Burbank (10-9, 3-3) ends up the regular season's fourth-place team from the league.
Despite being on the outside looking in as far as the postseason was concerned, the Indians came out and matched the Bulldogs throughout the first half.
Burroughs was able to stay close over the course of the first two quarters largely because of the play of goalkeeper Dillon Wiegand, who ended the match with 13 blocks.
"Dillon definitely did his job," Burroughs first-year Coach Michael Singhanate said. "None of the goals that went in past him were his fault. He really kept us in it in that first half.
"I was very happy with the way we played in the first half and I thought we were on our way."
Burbank goalkeeper Derek Baer also had a solid effort, stopping nine shots to record the victory.
It was a defensive struggle early on, as both squads accounted for just one goal each in the opening quarter. Burbank's Andres Pulgarin got the scoring started at the 2:42 mark and Burroughs' Aram Nordanyon knotted the score with a tally with 1:54 remaining.
Things remained tight in the second quarter, as Wiegand had four blocks. The Indians' Oscar Hernandez gave his team a 2-1 advantage with a goal at the 5:57 mark. However, Burbank answered the tally with a man-advantage goal by Robert Mheryan with 2:21 left.
The teams went into halftime tied at 2.
"Every game varies and you never know about the situation or how the team you're playing against is going to come out," said Burbank assistant Jarrod Prezebieda, a 2007 Burroughs graduate. "Their goalie played well and that didn't help us. I'm a Burroughs alumni and I worked with Dillon last season and I know the quality of player he is. The whole Burroughs team is just a great group of guys."
The Bulldogs were finally able to create some separation in the third quarter by scoring four straight goals. Goals from Arman Torosian and David Kennedy were book ended by two goals from Arthur Mheryan.
With a 6-2 advantage after three quarters, it appeared Burbank had things well in hand. However, Burroughs scored two straight goals on strikes from Daniel Silva and Hernandez and the deficit was just two with 3:54 remaining.
But then Arthur Mheryan elevated his game, scoring the final four goals of the contest to ensure the win for the Bulldogs.
"I was really happy with the way we stepped it up on our defense, because defense is the most important aspect of the game," Arthur Mheryan said. "And our goalie played really good and that helped us."