Balance, defense key for CV

PASADENA — Neither team made a move to run away with the game early when the boys' water polo teams from Crescenta Valley High and El Segundo met at Pasadena City College on Thursday afternoon, but the Falcons were well on their way to a win by the second half.

While Crescenta Valley's offense was clicking just fine as the match went on, the Eagles never could get anything going against a strong defensive effort and effective counter from the Falcons, who posted an 11-4 nonleague win.

"We wanted to pressure them on the counter-attack and, for a while, they did a good job of keeping up with us, trying to match our speed," said Crescenta Valley Coach Jan Sakonju, whose team was led by three goals apiece from Alan Dearman and Andrew De Jong. "But I think they began to wear down as we got closer to halftime and it started opening things up for us.

"[The Falcons] are still working on timing and finding each other in the pool, being aware of where their teammates are. They're fine-tuning that and, in the second half, I think they did a much better job of communication, awareness and good passing."

After outscoring El Segundo, 5-2, over the second and third quarters to take a 7-2 lead into the fourth, the Falcons, who are the top-ranked squad in CIF Southern Section Division V, broke the game open with unanswered goals on four consecutive possessions.

De Jong made it 8-2 with a steal that led to his own breakaway goal, then assisted on a score by Nick Rapose to make it 9-2.

The Falcons (6-2) then added tallies from Jack Snyder, on a five-meter shot, and Josh Chi, who scored on a pass from Snyder to cap Crescenta Valley's scoring at the 3:04 mark.

"We've been working on our team having everyone shoot instead of just having Alan shooting from the hole/set," said De Jong, who finished with two steals. "Having four different people shoot and make it, that's just really good for our team. We have more balance now than we did at the beginning of the season."

The match remained scoreless at the onset until Dearman made it 1-0 with a short turnaround shot with just over four minutes elapsed in the first period. Chi would make it 2-0 on a long-range skip shot.

Another goal from Dearman and a pair of well-placed lobs by De Jong in the second quarter made it 5-0 with 1:24 to go before halftime.

Falcons goalkeeper Rane Colvin made seven saves while playing just the first three quarters, but altered several more shots. The Eagles' first four shot attempts of the second quarter — most from close range — hit the crossbar as they tried to work the corners of the cage.

The only two scores he did allow came on a quick turning shot launched from close range that went right through his block with 1:09 left in the first half and a goal scored on an El Segundo 6-4 advantage midway through the third quarter.

"We've been doing a lot of conditioning, so I think we had more energy and stamina than they did," De Jong said. "That's helped our team offensively and defensively to gap and counter and do everything."

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