BURBANK — After its lopsided 20-10 victory over Cathedral City High at Burbank High in the wild-card round of the CIF Southern Section Division V boys' water polo tournament, Crescenta Valley was back in the pool.
And it was anything but celebratory, as Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju had his team back practicing in preparation for today's first-round match against host and No. 4 seed La Serna.
"They didn't come out and play as hungry as they should have," said Sakonju of his Falcons, who lost to La Serna, 17-4, in a nonleague match earlier this season. "We've had a habit of doing that. Maybe [today], with a top-four team, that will change. [La Serna is] too good for us to do that."
In all, 12 Falcons scored goals, led by Brian Dertli's four tallies, but Sakonju wasn't particularly happy with a slow start that led to a 5-2 first-quarter lead. Justification that his Falcons could play better came in the third period, as they turned a 9-3 halftime lead into a blowout with seven straight goals to start the second half.
"We kinda started a little slow," Dertli said. "Around halftime we picked it up. We weren't running our offense correctly, so we were able to adjust."
Dertli scored two consecutive goals to end the first half and then scored just 17 seconds in to the second half to begin the third-quarter barrage that saw the Falcons (10-18) grow their lead to an insurmountable 16-3 advantage with 2:38 left in the third period. After Dertli scored off a Yusef Trad assist with 4:29 left in the period, though, the score was 13-3 and Sakonju began emptying his bench.
"We knew we had the stronger team," Dertli said. "We should've done that from the beginning."
In the beginning, an Antonio Camarillo goal off a Leo Rostamian assist at 5:15 of the first period grabbed a 1-0 lead over the Lions (10-11), a Desert Valley League at-large entrant, but Cathedral City tied it at 1 roughly a minute later. It wasn't until a 54-second span in which back-to-back goals by Jonny Malmrose and a tally by Alex Lee were scored that the Falcons began to build a cushion, taking a 5-1 lead.
For the most part, the offense was also a bit off due to poor shooting.
"A lot of the shots were very sloppy," Sakonju said. "They were off-balance."
But, so too were the Lions', as they took 33 in all, but scored just 10 goals — with five coming in the final period.
Manny Martinez had 11 saves through three periods of work for the Falcons, while Malmrose and James Porcell had three goals each. Lee had two goals, as Camarillo, Trad, Rostamian, Griffin Harting, Gabe Park, Garrett Ellis, Sean Currie and Ryan Assaf had single tallies.
And of course, next up is the lofty challenge of La Serna, the Del Rio League champion.
"La Serna's good," Sakonju said, "but we've got nothing to lose."