Familiar finish for Falcons

PASADENA — While it’s likely little consolation to the likes of senior standouts Taylor Kuh and Olivia Trimis, the end of the Crescenta Valley High girls’ water polo season likely served as further evidence that the Falcons’ future is a bright one.

In a season thought by many to be one of rebuilding, the Falcons once more advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division IV quarterfinals, before their season’s terminus was once again spelled by Rio Mesa.

“I think this is a great way [to build for next season], this is a good experience for everyone who’s coming back next year,” said Falcons sophomore Kim Fraisse shortly after seventh-seeded Crescenta Valley fell against second-seeded Rio Mesa, 13-6, on Saturday afternoon at Pasadena City College, the second time in as many seasons that the Spartans ended the Falcons’ postseason run.

With Kuh and Trimis as the team’s only returning starters and 13 of 20 Falcons on the playoff roster underclassmen, one could easily surmise this was a successful season for Crescenta Valley (18-10).

“We returned two starters, for us to get to this point ... I’m very proud of this group,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Pete Loporchio. “I don’t usually like to use the term rebuilding, but this is the youngest team I’ve ever had.”

It was the first time in 14 matches that Rio Mesa (26-5), the Pacific View League champion, allowed more than five goals in a match. Nonetheless, the Falcons scored four of their six goals after having fallen behind by nine goals, a margin far too daunting to overcome despite a spirited fourth-quarter run from Crescenta Valley.

Down 3-1 at halftime, Crescenta Valley simply could not keep up in the third quarter, in which Rio Mesa scored seven goals.

“Our swimming and our speed took over in the third quarter,” said Spartans Coach Keith McKnett.

A lob shot by Kayla Duarte off a pass from Kuh fell in to make it 5-2 with 3:55 left in the third quarter, but Duarte’s score was only a brief respite in a seven-goal Rio Mesa barrage.

“They have too many skilled players,” said Loporchio, who added that the trap his defense employed began to slow in the second half, allowing the Spartans better shots than they saw in the first half.

In particular, Rio Mesa’s Jenny Jamison and Morgan McCardell hounded the Falcons. Jamison scored four of her match-high seven goals in the third quarter, while McCardell had three of her five scores. In addition, Rio Mesa’s experience paid obvious dividends, as the match was a far cry from last season’s 6-4 Rio Mesa quarterfinal win.

“We have a lot of balance this year, I think it’s the experience factor,” said McKnett of the difference in the teams from last year. “They’re a younger, up-and-coming team.”

Fraisse took an outlet pass from goalie Sophie Munoz, who had 10 saves and five steals, to score CV’s first goal.

But it didn’t come until the 3:34 mark of the second period. Fraisse’s shot was a splendid one, crossing into the far corner of the net, but the Falcons took 20 shots in the first half and it was the only one that went in. It was just as much Rio Mesa’s defense disallowing close chances as much as it was errant shooting, however.

“We had a lot of shooting opportunities,” Loporchio said. “I’m not sure they were the best, but we had a lot of them.”

Down 11-2 early in the final quarter, Crescenta Valley saw Fraisse, who had three steals, score her second goal of the match.

Before long, Kuh, Adrienne Ingalla and Trimis scored consecutive goals to draw within, 12-6, but just over two minutes remained and Rio Mesa clamped down over the remainder of the match.

Still it was yet another reason for promise in the next season, one that will see the majority of the Falcons return and one Loporchio’s ready to begin as soon as possible.

“I want to get going,” he said. “I want to start next season [right now].”

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