Hatzer holds top spot in league

When it came to the Pacific League, the Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo team was peerless to the point of perfection.

While they were tested, the Falcons were never toppled, en route to finishing 8-0 in league and capturing their third straight outright title.

The Falcons' overwhelming success in league led to a slew of all-league awards, as voted on by the league's coaches, including Pacific League Player of the Year honors for senior driver Sabrina Hatzer and a coach of the year nod for Pete Loporchio.

Three first-team awards and a spot each in the second team and honorable mention list also followed for the Falcons (31-1), who didn't suffer their first loss of the season until the CIF Southern Section Division V semifinals.

Hatzer, a senior, led the Falcons in most offensive categories, including goals scored (106), shooting percentage (61%) and assists (42), while also posting 61 steals, which was second-best on the team.

"I was really honored," said Hatzer, who scored seven goals in the Falcons' first meeting with Burroughs and seven more in each of two games against Glendale. "No one could be disappointed with a 31-1 season. It was very successful."

Hatzer's 106 single-season goals rank fourth all-time for Crescenta Valley behind past notables as Kim Fraisse, Lybov Tchougounova and Kristin McLaughlin.

Junior goalkeeper Gabriel Isacson, senior hole/set Stefanie Loporchio and junior attacker Breanna Lawton all garnered first-team nods for Crescenta Valley.

Isacson stepped into the starting role convincingly after serving as a backup as a sophomore. She finished the season with 228 saves, 18 assists and 19 steals.

"Gabriel was the backbone behind our defense," Coach Loporchio said.

The Falcons were 86-10 and never lost a league match over the last three seasons that Stefanie Loporchio and Lawton were on the team together and the duo provided valuable leadership, as well as production this season.

"Breanna and Stefanie are both three-year varsity players," Coach Loporchio said. "They just bring a lot of experience, basically, because they've been together coming off the bench since Breanna's freshman year when Stefanie was a sophomore."

Loporchio had 44 goals, 25 assists and 56 steals, while Lawton tallied 39 goals and 30 assists and led the team with 92 steals.

Burroughs (21-5) finished second in league at 6-2 and, while their first meeting with Crescenta Valley was a lopsided loss, the Indians gave the Falcons all they could handle in the championship game of the league tournament before losing, 8-6.

"This was just a great season for us," Indians Coach Danny Garcia said. "We had a good group of players who stepped up and helped us be successful. They all worked hard throughout the year, which for them began in the summer."

The Indians were recognized with first-team nods for two-meter defender Erika Green and senior hole/set Sam Buliavac.

Buliavac led the Indians with 137 goals on 70% shooting and added 26 assists, 40 steals and 52 drawn ejections.

Green scored 34 goals, assisted on 34 more, led the team with 68 steals and drew 21 ejections.

For Glendale (10-11), which placed fourth in league with a 3-5 record, senior goalkeeper Mariquita Lopez Engelman earned a first-team selection.

Lopez Engelman recorded 96 saves and dished out 23 assists.

"Mariquita, being our varsity goalie for three years, she was able to give us a lot of confidence just knowing that she was back there," Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook said. "That led to a lot of counter-attack goals. She really developed her passing game this year.

"There were games where she made multiple saves that should have been goals and she really kept us in those games. Mariquita was by far our most valuable player this year. She was a tremendous asset and we're really going to miss her next year."

Second-team nods went to Crescenta Valley sophomore driver Shannon Hovanesian, Burroughs' Ahsha Earwood and Daisy Hernandez, Burbank's Gabby Rodriguez and Pamela Minasian of Hoover.

Hovanesian was the Falcons' second-leading scorer with 71 goals and also had 31 assists and 51 steals.

"She was certainly one of our key offensive players," Coach Loporchio said of Hovanesian.

Earwood, a goalkeeper, tallied 268 saves to go along with 16 assists and 52 steals, while Hernandez contributed six goals, 23 assists and 19 steals.

Making honorable mention were Crescenta Valley sophomore Katie Benson, Burroughs' Savannah Simmons, Glendale senior driver Jacqueline Jones, Burbank's Natalie Pentkowski and Hoover's Lianna Khachikyan.

"Katie was a defensive stalwart for us," Coach Loporchio said of Benson, who scored 22 goals to go along with 24 assists and 58 steals.

Simmons scored 40 goals and had 35 assists and 41 steals.

Jones anchored the Nitros' offense with 51 goals, 22 assists and 19 drawn ejections.

"At the beginning of our season we had a tough time getting production on offense and Jacqueline stepped up and we were really able to base most of our offense off her," Holbrook said. "She's a very strong and smart player."

Pentkowski led the Bulldogs with 54 goals and also added 32 steals and 19 assists.

"Those were our go-to girls all season," Bulldogs Coach Evelin Setaghian said of Rodriguez and Pentowski. "With Natalie, she can play just about any position and I could use her at a lot of different spots."

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