Glendale water polo advance

Glendale High senior Armon Momdzhyan, center, looks to lead his top-ranked Nitros into a second straight CIF-SS Division V championship game. First, Glendale must beat Walnut on Wednesday. (Roger Wilson/File Photo)

Scoring goals hasn’t been an area of concern for the Glendale High boys’ water polo team through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Aside from their quick-strike offense, which has tallied 39 postseason goals, the top-seeded Nitros plan to shift their focus to tightening up their defense in their quest to move into the championship match for the second straight season.

Glendale will put its defensive unit to the test when it meets Walnut in a CIF Southern Section Division V semifinal match at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Mount San Antonio College.

“We want to try and get the right matchups on both sides of the ball,” said Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook, whose team is 20-6. “We are going to see a strong team and we want to focus more on playing conservatively on defense and trying to slow down the tempo.

“A goal of ours coming into each game is to try to hold the other team under eight goals. If we can do that, then we are confident we can be successful.”

The Nitros, who won the Pacific League championship for the third season in a row, moved into the semifinals with a 20-14 quarterfinal victory against Webb on Saturday at Burbank High. Glendale has allowed 16 goals in the postseason.

Glendale hole/set Manuk Piloyan said the Nitros are bracing for a tough test against Walnut, which finished second in the Hacienda League and reached the semifinals with a 10-9 win against fourth-seeded La Serna.

“In doing my part, I know I have to go out there and play great defense,” said Piloyan, who finished with seven goals against Webb. “It’s about getting the matchup and shadowing their best player.”

It will mark the second time the Nitros and Mustangs (14-14) have met this season. Glendale recorded a 13-12 win Sept. 21 in the Los Altos Tournament.

“It went back and forth and they have a real good player in Scott McDill,” Holbrook said. “He’s one of the best players in the division.

“He’s a threat from anywhere. He can post up and he’s got a cannon for a shot. It helps to have played them before because we have a better idea of what they like to do.”

McDill paced Walnut with four goals against La Serna. The Mustangs also got two goals apiece from Jeffrey Silverberg and Jacob Lepp. Walnut opened the playoffs with a 21-4 victory against Arlington.

Walnut Coach Mike Rieben said the Mustangs will look to build off their latest victory.

“We hope that will help us,” Rieben said. “When we are playing well, we can play with anybody.

“They have some solid shooters and guys who can play the perimeter. We hope to stay in it so we can give ourselves a shot at the end.”

Glendale goalkeeper Daniel Sarkissian said the Nitros will look to slow down the Mustangs.

“The first time we played them was a tough game,” Sarkissian said. “They have some good and quick shooters, so we have to try to get some field blocks.

“It will be a tough test. It gets harder along the way.”

The winner will advance to the title match against defending champion Pasadena Poly (22-5) or second-seeded Los Altos (20-10) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine.