LA CRESCENTA — To prepare themselves for the Pacific League Tournament, the members of the Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo team sought one final tune up.
They received it during a 12-10 nonleague victory against visiting La Serna on Saturday morning.
"We wanted a hard and intense battle heading into the tournament," said Crescenta Valley sixth-year Coach Pete Loporchio, whose team improved to 23-3 and will enter the tournament Tuesday against host Burbank as the No. 1 seed. "Anytime you play La Serna, you are playing a quality team and they have a lot of club players.
"A game like this raises the level of play for both teams. We couldn't have asked for a better kind of game to prep us. They are the type of team that will just keep coming at you."
The Falcons, ranked third with Bonita in the latest CIF Southern Section Division V poll, stormed out to a big lead in the first half before holding off a late charge by La Serna (16-10).
The Falcons received three goals apiece from Kim Fraisse, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year, and Christine Cho. Both players recorded hat tricks in the first half to help give Crescenta Valley an 8-3 halftime advantage.
Crescenta Valley took a 10-6 lead on a goal by Sabrina Hatzer with 3:47 left in the third quarter before the Lancers made their comeback attempt. La Serna, ranked No. 7 in Division III, closed to within 10-9 on a goal by Monique Dorado with 4:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Falcons recovered and got a goal apiece from Shannon Hovanesian and Adrienne Ingalla late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Crescenta Valley goalkeeper Dakota Davy, who finished with two saves while splitting time with Shelby Gregg (four saves), said she didn't expect the Lancers to give up at halftime.
"They are in a different division and a lot of teams in our division have played them," said Davy, who played the second and fourth quarters. "It's a test to show us where we are at heading into the tournament and playoffs.
"I loved their intensity and they do a lot of cross passing and shots without a fake. We had to keep up our intensity against them. They got close and we just had to keep fighting."
The Falcons, who won the league championship last season, opened the match red hot. They scored four goals in a little more than three minutes to grab a 4-0 lead. Stefanie Loporchio made it 4-0 with 2:58 left in the opening stanza.
Hatzer and Hovanesian finished with two goals apiece for the Falcons.
Dorado collected a match-best six goals for La Serna, which won the Del Rio League championship.