PASADENA — For the second day in a row, the Crescenta Valley High boys’ water polo team got out to a fast start, but the Falcons got a much different result Wednesday when they faced Cerritos.
The CIF Southern Section Division IV No. 1-ranked Dons — particularly their standout Ikko Saito — were simply too much for the Falcons to handle. Crescenta Valley, which is ranked fifth in Division V, scored the first two goals of the match, but Cerritos had no trouble overcoming them for a dominating 14-6 victory at Pasadena City College.
“They’re No. 1 in their division for a reason,” Crescenta Valley Coach Jan Sakonju said. “They’re very well coached, they’ve got very good fundamentals and [Saito] was practically unstoppable no matter what we did. I am extremely happy we came out strong and took that lead. It’s building on what we’ve been talking about, going out there and being able to do something like that because it can make a difference in the games later on in the season.”
Saito finished with a game-high six goals and four assists and scored four of the Dons’ (12-2) first five goals to give them a 5-2 lead a minute 15 seconds into the second quarter after the Falcons (5-9) had taken a 2-0 lead to start the game on goals from Andrew Lockwood and Brian Dertli.
CV goalie Robert Menke kept Cerritos off the board when he blocked a man-advantage shot with 5:50 to go in the first quarter and made saves on the next two Cerritos possessions. Menke was helpless against a Michael Hanna shot off a Josh Kartawinta pass and another six-on-five opportunity, which cut into the Falcons’ lead, with 3:36 left in the quarter.
Saito tied the game at 2 with three minutes left, gave the Dons a 3-2 lead with 2:17 left and then added to it with six seconds left in the quarter.
“He was really fast, had a good shot and none of our guys could guard him as well as we would have liked,” Menke said of Saito. “He was very good on offense.”
Cerritos increased its lead to 8-4 by halftime, but gave Crescenta Valley plenty of chances to keep it close, as the Falcons drew five ejections in the second quarter, but could produce only a goal on one of them when Ben Horton buried a shot 59 seconds before halftime to cut the deficit to four, 8-4.
Three of Crescenta Valley’s man-advantage shots were field blocked that quarter — including one from CV’s Alexander Trimis that was knocked down by Domonick Navarez with two seconds left in the first half — and the other saved by Cerritos goalie Grant Jimenez, who finished with 16 saves.
“Nobody really wanted to take the shots,” Sakonju said of his team’s struggles on man advantages. “There were guys who could’ve taken the shots and they passed it up. That’s fine, they just need to develop it. It would be nice if they became that goal scorer, but that’s kind of what we’re working on, finding that guy to take those shots.”
The Falcons kept themselves in contention when Griffin Harting, who finished with two goals, netted a deep shot with 5:22 left in the third quarter to bring the score to 8-5. Hope was dashed as Cerritos scored four unanswered goals for a 12-5 lead. Daniel Park (goal, assist, two steals) capped Crescenta Valley’s scoring when he nailed a beautiful lob shot a second before the third quarter ended.