ARCADIA — Whether it was at point-blank or from long-distance, Burroughs High girls’ water polo goalkeeper Ema Nathan was there to stop Crescenta Valley from scoring.
In the Pacific League Tournament semifinal match between No. 2-seeded Crescenta Valley and No. 3 Burroughs, the Indians senior blocked 26 shots against the Falcons, helping lead her squad to the tournament championship match.
Burroughs held Crescenta Valley scoreless in the second and third quarters to win, 10-3, at Arcadia High and record its first-ever victory against the Falcons since joining the Pacific League in 2006.
“I got lucky, but I think that’s one of the best games I’ve ever played, ever,"said Nathan, who is headed to University of the Pacific. “I don’t know what it was. My senior year? I don’t know. I don’t know.
“I want to win CIF so bad, so I think that hunger for winning is finally pushing me more than it ever has before.”
The win earns the Indians a spot in the tournament championship at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Arcadia High. Burroughs (17-6, 3-4 in league) will take on No. 1 Arcadia (6-1 in league), which defeated Pasadena, 9-7, in the other semifinal contest.
While Nathan kept the cage under watch, Burroughs converted five goals from long range to secure the victory.
Crescenta Valley defeated Burroughs, 10-4, in their first match of the season on Jan. 16.
“When you lose against a team, the next time you play them, they have a lower expectation of you, so I think coming out as fired up as we were helped us in our victory,” Nathan said. “All four years, Crescenta Valley has been a big opponent for us, so we had that goal to finally beat them, and it’s a big accomplishment for all us. We were finally able to do that.”
The Indians, ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division V, received five goals from sophomore Clarissa Robles, three from junior Angelina Lee and two from freshman Nancy Baylor.
Falcons senior Lexie Kawachi scored twice for Crescenta Valley (12-10, 5-1) and sophomore Kyra Freemon added one.
After Lee scored the semifinal’s opening goal midway in the first, the Falcons pulled one back on a five-meter goal from Freemon. Crescenta Valley took a 2-1 lead with a goal from Kawachi with 1:41 left in the frame.
Robles scored three goals in the second quarter, and her first goal of the period tied the match at 2 early in the frame.
The sophomore later scored from long range to give the Indians a one-goal lead, before a goal from Baylor lifted Burroughs to a 4-2 advantage.
Lee and Robles closed out a five-goal second quarter with long-distance goals in the final 1:20 to take a 6-2 halftime advantage. Nathan blocked six shots in the second and finished with 13 saves in the half.
“This was night and day from the last time we played them,” Burroughs coach Jacob Cook said. “Last time we played Crescenta Valley, we were in their small pool and all of us had a bad game. Ema had about four blocks and it just wasn’t a good game for anybody. Ema stepped it up. She had 26 saves and all of her other teammates stepped it up.
“It was pretty evenly scored and I thought our defense was awesome. We made the adjustments. Amazing day. I’m super-proud of them.”
Crescenta Valley had chances in the third to slice into the Burroughs lead with three shots on goal, but Nathan was able to keep the Falcons scoreless with four saves to maintain the 6-2 lead.
“We were really trying to work the ball on the outside and get the ball moving,” Crescenta Valley first -year coach Amber Dien said. “I think we accomplished that in that sense, but at the end of the day, our shots were not going in and that was the biggest upset to our score.”
Robles scored her fourth goal of the game to break the Burroughs drought for a 7-2 lead. But Kawachi answered right back with 3:50 left with the Falcons’ first goal since 1:41 in the opening quarter.
Goals from Robles, Baylor and Lee in the final three minutes lifted the Indians to a seven-goal lead to advance to the league final.