There is no secret which girls’ water polo program is the team to beat again this season.
“You can expect [Crescenta Valley] to be right up there again — they always are,” Burbank coach Allyson Young said. “It’s the same every year.”
The Falcons, who return All-Area Player of the Year junior driver Alex Garas, captured their eighth straight league championship last season with an 8-0 record. Crescenta Valley hasn’t been beaten in 64 straight league contests.
“They have probably the best player in the league back, so they should be as tough as always,” Burroughs coach Jacob Cook said. “I’m just hoping we can play with them. …They will be the team to beat.”
Here is a closer look at how the teams are shaping up.
The Indians are coming off a season in which they went 10-9 and 5-3 in the Pacific League for third place. In the playoffs, Burroughs fell in a CIF Southern Section Division V wild-card match to Tesoro, 12-3. Cook joined his team late after piloting his boys’ water polo team to a CIF Southern Section Division V championship.
“Last year there wasn’t much time in between the guys and girls season for me,” said Cook, whose boys lost in the second round of the playoffs this season on last week. “I am with them full time earlier this year and I have been able to devote all of my time to them and not have to worry about the boys like last year.”
Although Burroughs lost seven seniors to graduation, it returns a core of players that made an impact last season.
Leading the group is senior attacker Gwen Turla. Last season, Turla earned all-league first-team recognition after leading the team with 67 goals and 22 steals to go along with 12 assists.
“We look for Gwen to be even better this season,” Cool said. “We are expecting good things from her this year.”
Oher returners are second-team all-leaguer Aleah Orozco (25 goals, 20 steals and 17 assists), a junior attacker, honorable mention Bianca Sanchez (31 goals and 15 steals), a senior hole/set, and senior attacker Cameron Flores.
“Those are going to be the main players who we need to rely on this year,” Cook said. “I expect us to be stronger than we were last year, I’m actually counting on that. We have a good group of girls who have been working very hard during the offseason.
“We have our share of talent and the camaraderie between the girls is really high right now … I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Another player who could contribute is senior attacker Andrea Silva. The team’s goalkeeper will be junior Isabella Erickson.
The Bulldogs are coming off a season in which they went 6-18, 2-6 in the Pacific League for sixth place.
Burbank lost some key players to graduation, namely all-league second-team goalkeeper Clare Griffin (186 saves, 37 steals and 16 assists).
“We lost four seniors from last year, three of which were starters, and losing Clare was a big one for us,” Young said. “We have some players up from the [junior varsity] team, including our new goalie, and we do have some returners from last year.
“It has been interesting so far. We are just seeing where everybody fits and how they play together. You really can’t tell how they will be until we play in actual games.”
The lone returning all-league player is senior driver Sune Aghakian, who earned honorable mention in 2016 after tallying 41 goals, 36 steals and 20 assists.
Two other key returners are senior utility Lexi Lyneis and junior driver Michelle Morlock.
“All three of those girls were starters last year and we are looking for them to kind of step up and lead the team this season,” Young said. “They have the experience and hopefully they will help some of the other players come along. So far they seem to be doing that.”
The new goalkeeper is junior Suzie Misiryan.
“I think those are going to be our key players,” Young said. “I kind of have an idea who my starters could be, but we will just have to see who does well under pressure.
“Hopefully we will be ready for league. I think Burroughs will also be up with CV and then we should be pretty equal with Glendale and Pasadena.”