BURBANK — Even though the Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo team had beaten Glendale the first time the teams met, Shannon Hovanesian believed the Falcons could improve in a specific facet of their game — passing.
Throughout Tuesday night's semifinal match against rival Glendale in the Pacific League Tournament at Burbank High, Hovanesian and the Falcons made plenty of crisp passes that played a role in keeping the team undefeated and clinching them a share of their third league championship in a row.
"Our passing was a lot better today then from the first time we played them," said Hovanesian, who scored a match-high four goals to power Crescenta Valley to a 15-2 victory. "The last time we played them, we had a hard time with that.
"We never stopped pushing [Tuesday] and we got a lot of goals because of some good passing. It will be real exciting to win league again."
Crescenta Valley (27-0, 7-0 in league) will meet Burroughs (19-3, 6-1) in the tournament's championship game at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Burbank. A Crescenta Valley victory would give it the outright league title. A Burroughs victory would leave it and Crescenta Valley as co-champions with Burroughs entering the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs as the league's top seed. Earlier Tuesday, Burroughs posted a 6-3 overtime victory against Pasadena.
The Falcons, who are ranked second in the division with Temescal Canyon and Redlands East Valley, wasted little time getting started against Glendale (10-9, 4-3). Crescenta Valley jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter with Hovanesian scoring twice. After Sabrina Hatzer gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead with 6:04 left, Hovanesian scored two goals midway through the first frame to make it 3-0 before Nayiri Kechichian extended the advantage to 4-0 with 11 seconds remaining.
"One thing we've talked about since the start of the season is how passing is so important," said Crescenta Valley Coach Pete Loporchio, whose team posted a 15-7 home win against Glendale on Jan. 19. "It's about having the ability to make that good pass, catching the ball and then shooting.
"We were able to make those quick passes and execute [Tuesday]. We were able to shoot right off the pass. That helps our tempo and the way we want to play."
The Falcons took a 9-0 halftime lead after receiving two goals apiece from Kechichian and Hatzer and one from Stefanie Loporchio in the second quarter.
Hovanesian scored a pair of goals in the third quarter, which also featured one apiece from Elissa Arnold and Katie Benson to make it 13-0 through three quarters.
After Cameron Campbell gave the Falcons a 14-0 lead early in the third quarter, Glendale got one goal each from Desiree Ivett Garcia-Solano and Biyouregh Boghozian to pull to within 14-2 before Loporchio closed out the scoring.
"CV was outstanding with their counter-attacks and they really pushed the ball well," said Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook, whose team will meet Pasadena (16-11, 4-3) in the tournament's third-place match at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the same venue. "It will be interesting to see how we come back Thursday."