Falcons pick up easy victory

ARCADIA — On paper, Crescenta Valley High's girls' water polo team faced its archrival, Arcadia, on the road in its Pacific League regular-season finale on Wednesday afternoon.

But in reality, the match proved to be a minor speed bump that served as a showcase of the Falcons' stifling depth and defensive play en route to an easy 16-4 win over the Apaches.

"We try to spread the wealth, we try and call it a seamless transition. That's kind of been our tradition through the year," said Loporchio, who got goals from 11 players in the lopsided win, led by daughter Stephanie Loporchio's game-high four goals. "I'll be honest, from a girls' water polo perspective, [the Falcons] just look at is as another game."

Indeed, one of the Falcons' biggest rivals has become nonleague adversary South Pasadena, which bested Crescenta Valley, 5-3, on Saturday in the finals of the Oxnard Tournament. It was the third meeting between the two teams this season, with the Falcons having won the first two.

"Even with the loss, I thought we played well," said Loporchio, whose team is ranked third in CIF Southern Section Division V, while South Pas is ranked fourth in Division III. "I think our intensity was good and our defense was very good."

Despite the loss on Saturday, Crescenta Valley (22-3, 6-0 in league) had no lingering effects on Wednesday in its more defined rivalry match, as its defense was once again "very good" in taking care of an overwhelmed Arcadia team (1-5 in league) and putting itself in prime position to repeat as league champions after winning its 14th straight league match heading into next week's league championship tournament.

Should the Falcons win in the opening round of the tournament against fourth-seeded Burbank, they will clinch no less than a share of the league crown, which is clearly the top priority on their minds.

"We win and then we have to move on and [we have] got to prepare," said Stephanie Loporchio, who also had two steals and an assist, of moving on from a relatively easy win to its most important stretch of the season. "We just have to move on from this game."

With Arcadia devoting a double-team to reigning All-Area Player of the Year Kim Fraisse, Loporchio scored the match's first goal 17 seconds in before Adrienne Ingalla scored with 5:22 to go in the opening period. Both shots came from the perimeter, with the Apaches trying to bottle up Fraisse, who had two goals and two steals, on the inside. Nonetheless, CV's biggest struggles came with converting many of its shots, as it routinely hit the post or crossbar or sailed shots over the cage altogether.

"We definitely need [to improve] our perimeter shooting," said Loporchio, a junior.

It really made no matter on Wednesday, though, as eight Falcons scored on the way to a 9-0 start past the midway mark of the second quarter.

Arcadia's Michelle Fry, who had three goals, broke the shutout with 2:27 to go in the first half.

Crescenta Valley's goalie trio of Shelby Gregg, Dakota Davy-Bertram and Gabriel Isacson combined for 12 saves on mostly direct Arcadia shots, with Davy-Bertram and Isacson each tallying shutout quarters and the former notching a trio-best five saves.

Crescenta Valley tallied 21 steals in all and used many of them to easily convert goals on the other end.

Kristina Molder added two goals, while Breanna Lawton, Daniella Khatchetourian, Claire Nolan, Jennifer Wagner, Naiyri Kechichian, Shannon Hovanesian and Gregg all had single goals.

"That's one of our strengths," said the younger Loporchio of the team's depth. "We can trust anyone on the team to go in there and score and do what we need to do."

Before the league finals and the subsequent CIF playoffs, the Falcons still have one more regular season match in which they'll host La Serna, ranked seventh in Division III, on Saturday at an event entitled "Pack the Pool." Crescenta Valley is inviting one and all to a pancake breakfast before the match, which will showcase the unveiling of the aquatics program's new scoreboard. The elder Loporchio's also hoping the match itself will pay dividends.

"It'll get us ready for the league finals," he said.

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