BURBANK — “No shot,” Crescenta Valley High boys’ water polo Coach Jan Sakonju told Falcons goalie Rane Colvin.
With eight seconds remaining in his team’s CIF Southern Section Division VI second-round contest and the beginning of its quest to repeat as division champion, Sakonju didn’t want his team appearing as if it was running up the score.
But he might as well have been prognosticating the oppositions’ chances against a Falcons squad that was borderline flawless and dominant from the start.
Showcasing a balanced offensive effort and a tenacious defense, Crescenta Valley stormed to a six-goal lead in the first quarter of its playoff opener, never faltering in an impressive 17-4 win against Oxnard at Burbank High.
“We were expecting to come out and play a good game, but it was a little different than we expected,” said Crescenta Valley’s Alan Dearman of the lopsided nature of the match, which saw the Falcons claim a 14-1 halftime lead. “We’re real excited that’s how it turned out.”
Dearman was one of eight Falcons to score, leading the way with six goals, four assists and three steals. Martin Rivera, Chris Veselich, Tanner Kober and Michael Chang all had two scores for a Falcons team that had a bye in the first round and was without one of its top players in Matt Peters after he was ejected during his team’s overtime win against Glendale in last week’s Pacific League championship.
“We needed to look sharp,” said Sakonju of his third-seeded Falcons (19-8), who will host Pasadena Poly in Saturday’s quarterfinal match at Burbank. “You always worry about a letdown. ... It’s hard to match the intensity of the Glendale match and it had been a week [since they’ve played] and they’ve been going bonkers. They’ve been anxious to play.”
And it showed from the onset, as Daniel Olson broke a 1-1 tie with a first-period goal with 5:35 left in the quarter. The tally began a 13-0 Falcons run that left Oxnard in the wake.
Crescenta Valley notched 16 steals as a team, turning the majority of them into transition goals that were provided by sleek passing.
“We’ve been practicing a lot on our passing and I think it showed out there,” Dearman said. “We’re all about defense. That’s what we’re gonna win games with is defense.”
On Thursday that was the case, as Oxnard (16-13) had just two shots in the first quarter and seven combined in the first half, two of them coming with a man-advantage.
Colvin made just three saves in the half before he was subbed out, with many of the starters taking a seat in the second period.
“I’m extremely happy,” Sakonju said. “They’ve been working for this all season.”