BURBANK — Crescenta Valley girls’ water polo head coach Ricky Mulcahey strolled into his team’s Pacific League match at Burroughs with two minutes left in the first quarter.
At the time, the Falcons trailed the Indians by one goal and didn’t have a firm grip on the tempo of the contest.
Nearly a minute after Mulcahey arrived, Crescenta Valley tied the score and applied its defensive pressure to unease Burroughs and eventually come away with a 9-6 Pacific League victory at Burroughs on Tuesday.
“We just did a lot of passing and a lot of shooting [in practice],” Mulcahey said. “Our passing was a little off today, but our shots were on and we prepared for their really good goalkeeper. We knew they had [Emma Nathan] last year, so that’s what we prepared for. A lot of passing and a lot of shooting to get them ready for the keeper.”
The hosts pulled ahead at the 3:59 mark in the first quarter off a goal from Brianna Meneses.
The Falcons (4-2, 3-0 league) tested Nathan for much of the first quarter, but she plenty of saves to maintain her clean sheet prior to Mulcahey’s arrival.
Nathan posted three saves in the first quarter and finished with 11 blocks to go along with a goal and an assist.
“Our girls kept fighting, but we kind of lack experience in certain situations where the game gets going and there’s a lot of high pressure situations where the girls get tired,” Burroughs coach Jacob Cook said.
“There tends to be a lapse on defense and Crescenta Valley is a lot more experienced so they know how to capitalize on those situations. Overall, I thought we played a great game. Keeping them within three points, that was awesome. I’m really proud of them.”
Crescenta Valley’s Lexi Kawachi tied the score at 1 with 40 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, before the junior scored the go-ahead goal early in the second quarter.
The second frame saw increased man-coverage from the Falcons, who forced a handful of Indians shot-clock violations.
Crescenta Valley registered six shots on goal, in comparison to Burroughs’ first shot on goal coming at the 1:33 mark.
“I think it’s just the last five years of them hearing my voice, and then when I come on the pool deck, they tend to kick it in gear,” Mulcahey said. “It’s happened before, too, where they’re lackadaisical. It’s kind of like when you have a substitute teacher. You try to get away with some stuff, but they just understood I was there and that it was time to play.”
The Falcons pulled ahead with a 4-1 lead in the second quarter after getting goals from Roxy Jackson-Gain and Riley Gonzalez.in a 21-second span.
Burroughs’ Amy Berberyan cut the Falcons lead in half, 4-2, with 1:33 left in the half — the Indians first shot of the quarter.
Jackson-Gain opened the third quarter with a goal to lift the Falcons to a 5-2 lead, and completed a hat-trick at the 4:18 mark off a Crescenta Valley counter-attack to extend the lead.
“We just tried to start taking smarter shots because we’re not used to shooting at good goalkeepers,” Jackson-Gain said. “And since [Nathan] is a really good goalkeeper in our league, we just had to instead of trying to rush the shot, wait and try to beat her by getting some cross–face passes and moving the ball around.”
The Indians (4-7, 1-1) added a pair of late goals in the quarter that included Nathan’s mid-pool goal at the buzzer to close the third quarter with a 7-4 deficit.
A goal from Burroughs’ Aleah Orozco made it 7-5 early in the final quarter, but Kawachi completed her hat trick less than a minute later to restore Crescenta Valley’s three-goal lead.
Orozco caught a lengthy pass from Nathan to pull within two goals again with 3:47 left, but Jackson-Gain found an open lane to put the Falcons ahead, 9-6, with 1:41 left.