Falcons have goals set even higher

GLENDALE — For all the success that's been achieved of late by the Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo team, Coach Pete Loporchio could only marvel at what the future might hold.

The Falcons captured the Pacific League championship last year and advanced to the quarterfinals for the third consecutive season. While past teams featured a talented cast of athletes, the Falcons weren't always blessed with a wealth of depth.

That might change in a big way for Loporchio and the Falcons, who will look to win another league title and perhaps advance a round or two farther in the postseason. Yes, they return Kim Fraisse, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year and other important contributors to the lineup, but depth should play a vital role in how the Falcons fare.

"We have a talented group coming back and it's the deepest team I've had at CV," said Loporchio, whose team went 26-5 and 8-0 in league last season. "We have a talented core coming back, but we will be able to bring up some of our JV players up from a team that went 18-2.

"We like the makeup of our team. We scored 397 goals last season and many of those who scored last year will be back. We were one goal away from reaching the semifinals last season and we lost in overtime to [Lompoc] Cabrillo. We are looking to get past that and want to push forward because we think we can."

The lone area team to join Crescenta Valley in the CIF Southern Section playoffs last season was Glendale, which advanced to the first round. Hoover, Flintridge Prep and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy didn't qualify for the playoffs for the second season in a row. In fact, the Tornadoes, Rebels and Tologs combined for four victories last season.

Crescenta Valley appears to be the top team in the area. The Falcons will return Fraisse, a utility player who collected a school-record 129 goals en route to being named the league's co-most valuable player and securing All-CIF first-team accolades last season, driver Christine Cho and utility player/hole/guard Adrienne Ingalla. Cho and Ingalla earned All-Area first-team honors.

Loporchio, who was named the All-Area Coach of the Year last season, said there will be some challenges for the Falcons in their quest to win another league championship.

"Some of the teams are going to be a lot better," Loporchio said. "Pasadena has a lot of club players and Burbank will be tough."

Glendale, under second-year Coach Forest Holbrook, will look to prove that last season wasn't a fluke.

Holbrook, who has guided the school's boys' team to the postseason in each of his first two seasons, said the Nitros are now used to his style of coaching.

"I think the more time I've spent with them, the better they understand what we are trying to do," Holbrook said. "Everybody is bigger and stronger and we return the bulk of our team, so it's a win-win situation.

"The only goal I have is for each of them to continue working hard and improving. If they can do that, then it will be a successful year."

The Nitros will turn to a trio of returners in hole/set Kristina Terzyan and utility players Milene Minassians and Desiree Solano Garcia.

Hoover didn't win a match last season, leaving Coach Ara Oganesyan to go back to the basics and try and get the Tornadoes in position to win and possibly challenge for a playoff berth.

Hoover will return some of its players, including driver Pamela Minasian, hole/guard Ivanna Gharibian and hole/set Erin Babakhani.

"They do understand the expectations of the program," Oganesyan said. "I just want them to continue learning the game and develop team mastery."

Flintridge Prep could muster only one victory last season under Coach Alex Supple. Supple said the Rebels, who will return drivers Evie Bettman, Chelsea Rapaport and Lilah Currim, can only improve despite plenty of inexperience.

"We have some depth," Supple said. "We will introduce the sport to 10 new players and that will hopefully lead to something positive."

Sacred Heart lost two keys players to graduation in Olivia Gonzalez and Shaylyn Stanley. Tologs Coach Robert Curreri said it's likely that the Tologs will be involved in some heavy duty rebuilding.

"We graduated our top players and hopefully we will have some good incoming players," Curreri said. "Hopefully, the returners that we have will be able to fill the shoes of those who left."

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