LA CRESCENTA — If Tuesday's Pacific League-opening 15-8 win over Burroughs was any indication, the reserve members of the Crescenta Valley High boys' water polo team will get ample opportunity to learn on the job this season.
But when you've got a starting lineup as dangerous as the Falcons', there's room for a little trial and error.
Alan Dearman scored three goals and Josh Chi and Louis Wojciechowski added two apiece to pace Crescenta Valley to a 10-0 lead by the 5:21 mark of the second quarter, effectively ending any shot the Indians might have had of an upset of the defending league champions, who are currently ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division V.
"We just wanted to come out and try as hard as we could to start out really strong," Dearman said. "That was our mentality, to just try and open it up in the beginning."
Dearman and his starting teammates watched nearly the final two thirds of the match from the bench and there was certainly a drop-off in the Falcons' dominance, although never enough to really put the outcome of the match in doubt.
The Indians played the Falcons (10-2) even in the second half as far as goals scored and Rusty Blakey's two tallies were the only ones for Crescenta Valley over the final five minutes of the first half, by which point its lead had been cut to 11-4.
Of Burroughs' four first-half goals, two came on five-meter attempts and a third was aided by a 6-5 man advantage. In all, Crescenta Valley's second string drew seven ejections and gave the Indians three five-meter chances.
But the lead never shrunk below seven goals and Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju was willing to let his reserve unit figure things out for itself.
"I didn't want to pull people for making mistakes," Sakonju said. "I wanted them to be able to get in there and learn from it and fix it and they did a good job of doing that, which made it possible for me to keep them in and then make some more substitutions."
It didn't take long in the early going for the Falcons to assert their speed advantage and defensive muscle, which translated into more possessions and mounting goals.
Wojciechowski, Jack Snyder, Andrew De Jong and Nick Rapose all scored in succession before Dearman reeled off three straight goals within a span of 2:20 bridging the first and second quarters.
Yusef Trad, Johnny Malmrose, Daniel Chang and Blakey all scored second-half goals for the Falcons.
"It was a good team effort," Sakonju said. "Starting with the first quarter, we wanted to make sure that the passes were on, people were communicating and doing all those things that we've been trying to do all season.
"They were able to execute that well and play well together and guys coming in that haven't been playing, they made mistakes, but they were able to adjust and start running our offense and our defense the way we wanted."