BURBANK — While the Crescenta Valley High girls’ water polo team clinched at least a share of the Pacific League championship Tuesday night, Burroughs learned plenty about itself with the playoffs looming for both programs.
Having each already locked up playoff berths in CIF Southern Section Division V, the Falcons and Indians met in a semifinal match of the league tournament at Burbank High looking to meet their own goals.
Elissa Arnold finished with a match-high seven goals to power top-seeded Crescenta Valley to a 22-6 victory and set up a championship match against second-seeded Glendale at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the same venue.
The Falcons (20-6, 7-0 in league) have either won or split five league championships in a row. Burroughs fell to 8-14, 3-4. Crescenta Valley can win the league title outright with a victory against Glendale (15-6, 6-1).
“At the end of the season, you always are looking to play your best,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Brent Danna, who guided the Falcons to the program’s first CIF crown last season and is ranked third in the latest Division V poll. “We had some hard [nonleague] games the last week or so against San Marcos, Riverside Poly and Redlands East Valley, so hopefully we would be peaking [coming into the league tournament].
“It’s awesome to get at least a share of league. You always have two goals with the first being winning league and then trying to win CIF. It always revolves around winning league and we don’t want to share it.”
Crescenta Valley got three goals apiece from Ani Aghakhanian and Audrey Taylor to turn back fourth-seeded Burroughs.
Arnold said it was important for the Falcons to stay on track against the Indians.
“We really wanted to be able to keep the same intensity throughout the whole game,” said Arnold, who registered five first-half goals to give the Falcons a 13-2 halftime advantage. “You just try to go out there and capitalize on the other team’s mistakes.”
Arnold’s last goal of the first half came with seven seconds left.
Burroughs’ lone bright spot was a quality effort from Cheyenne Morrison, who finished with a team-best five goals. Otherwise, it proved to be a long 32-minute match for the Indians, who will face third-seeded Arcadia (5-3 in league) in the tournament’s third-place contest at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Indians pulled to within 2-1 on a goal by Morrison with 4:20 remaining in the first quarter. That would be as close as the Indians could get.
“It definitely shows the flaws that we have and the things that we need to work on leading up to the playoffs,” said Burroughs Coach Michael Singhanate, whose team trailed, 5-1, at the end of the first quarter. “It’s a loss, but there’s a lot of things we can take away from it and continue to learn and get better.”
Danna, the reigning All-Area Girls’ Water Polo Coach of the Year, said the Falcons welcome the challenge of facing Glendale.
“There’s a rivalry and there’s also a mutual respect between the two teams,” Danna said. “We are looking forward to playing Glendale and we know we have to put four strong quarters together.”
In the first matchup between the Falcons and Nitros on Jan. 30, Crescenta Valley broke open a close game to post a 19-7 home victory.