Falcons right ship against archrivals

ARCADIA β€” Rivalry or not, realistically, Wednesday afternoon's Pacific League regular season finale between Crescenta Valley High and host Arcadia was one with little intrigue when it came to prognosticating the final outcome.

Ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division V, the Falcons have faced a passel of division heavyweights and come out the victor more than not, while the archrival Apaches had struggled to the tune of just four wins entering Wednesday's contest.

But following a somewhat lackadaisical performance in a win against Walnut on Tuesday and heading into the league championship tournament and CIF postseason play, Wednesday's match proved important in terms of putting Crescenta Valley on the right track.

"We gotta get ready for playoffs, we gotta get sharp," said Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju after his team's dismantling of Arcadia, 19-8. "You want to maintain that focus, you don't want to have a letdown."

After a slow start offensively, by the Falcons' standards anyway, Crescenta Valley's offense caught up with its defense, adding up to a dominant 9-0 halftime lead that ballooned to a 17-4 third-quarter advantage even as Sakonju began substituting.

"The first quarter was really slow," said Andrew DeJong, who scored all of his match-high six goals in the first half, including four straight at one point. "We just had to execute everything."

Jack Snyder, who had a pair of goals, began the scoring at 5:59 with DeJong following 31 seconds later, but the Falcons' offense went stale until the 2:55 mark when DeJong scored again.

"The first half, [the Falcons] played really tight defense," said Sakonju, whose team didn't allow a goal until the 6:19 mark of the third quarter, but answered with three straight scores to up its lead to 12-1. "They tightened up their 'D,' which is what we need moving forward. After a couple possessions the offense kicked in, too."

Goalie Rane Colvin needed to make but two saves in his first half's worth of shutout work against Arcadia (4-12, 0-6 in league).

Crescenta Valley's trademark speed and counter-attack really hit its stride in the third, with eight goals from six players, bolstered by three from Robby Ruzicka, who had four on the day.

In all, 10 Falcons had goals despite playing without offensive stalwart Alan Dearman, who sat out with an unspecified injury.

Top-seeded Crescenta Valley (19-4, 6-0), having now won 23 straight league contests, now prepares for the league tournament in which it will host fourth-seeded Burbank on Tuesday at Burbank High, with the league championship set for Thursday before setting forth on the CIF postseason.

"Our goal is to win CIF, like everyone," De Jong said. "That's what we're working toward. Hopefully when CIF comes, we're ready."

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