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Moguel, Garas split league's top honor for second straight season

Moguel, Garas split league's top honor for second straight season
Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo player Kaitlyn Moguel, left, shared the Pacific League's co-Player of the Year honor with teammate Alex Garas. (Tim Berger | Staff Photographer)

Backed by its sturdy one-two punch that’s been together the last three seasons, the Crescenta Valley High girls’ water polo team rolled to a ninth straight Pacific League championship.

Crescenta Valley turned to Kaitlyn Moguel and Alex Garas to lead the charge in dismantling its league opponents and qualifying for the CIF playoffs.

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The drivers responded to each challenge and put up impressive numbers in being named the league’s co-players of the year, as voted on by the league’s seven coaches. It marked the second season in a row that the duo was bestowed with the honor.

“When you get to watch them play, you see how they feed off of each other and how they know where the other will be,” said Crescenta Valley coach Ricky Mulcahey, who was named the league’s coach of the year after the Falcons went 24-5, 8-0 in league and advaned to the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs. “I’ve always been impressed with their work ethic and I’m very happy I’ve had a chance to coach them.

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“Kaitlyn has one of the best attitudes about learning and she’s very smart with the ball and reading plays. With Alex, people get to know her no matter where you go and she’s a one-of-a-kind athlete with a great shot and she’s great at defending.”

Moguel, a senior, collected a team-leading 83 goals, 107 steals and 53 assists.

“I wanted to get better in my overall game and take on more of a leadership role,” Moguel said. “In sharing the award with Alex, it’s a great thing because we’ve been friends and played together for a long time.”

Garas, a junior, finished with 58 goals, 69 steals and 45 assists.

“We’re proud of the things we’ve been able to accomplish the last three years,” said Garas, who missed significant playing time due to an injury. “We’re glad that we were able to help extend the run of league championships. We definitely wanted to keep that going.”

Moguel and Garas were among 11 local players to earn all-league honors.

Picking up first-team recognition were Crescenta Valley’s Lexie Kawachi, Roxy Jackson-Gain and Allison Smith and Jamie Fritz of Glendale.

Kawachi, a senior attacker, collected 44 goals, 44 steals and 33 assists.

“She stepped up her game and understood what she could give to the team and that came by knowing her exact role,” Mulcahey said.

Jackson-Gain finished with 29 goals, 23 assists and 18 steals as a junior attacker.

“She accepted her role and that was by being a top defender who could help out while Kaitlyn and Alex guarded the perimeter,” Mulcahey said.

Smith, a senior goalkeeper, recorded 204 saves.

“Allison is the workhorse who always figures out a way to get the job done and make the big saves,” Mulcahey said.

Fritz, a sophomore utility, notched 56 goals, 52 steals and 30 assists for the Nitros. Glendale went 12-13, 3-5 for fourth place and made it to the first round of the Division VI playoffs.

“Jamie is an incredible, hard-working athlete whose experience showed this season,” Glendale coach Casey Sripramong said. “She was able to play great offense as well as assist on plays. Her sharp defensive skills helped this season and she was able to endure and power through four quarters of each game.”

Crescenta Valley’s Hanna Ziccardi and Anahit Mirzoyan of Hoover (3-11, 1-6 for seventh place) were selected to the second team.

Ziccardi, a sophomore attacker, finished with 43 goals, 47 steals and 30 assists.

Mirzoyan, a junior driver, collected 14 goals, 32 assists and 27 steals.

Crescenta Valley’s Porsche Double, Mondana Nassirpour of Glendale and Hoover’s Mariam Manukyan earned honorable mention.

Double, a senior hole/guard, had 18 goals, 19 steals and 14 assists. Nassirpour, a senior utility, registered 61 goals, 27 assists and 22 steals. Manukyan, a junior utility, recorded 10 goals and 24 assists.

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