Quick start sparks Crescenta Valley water polo

PASADENA — Crescenta Valley High Coach Jan Sakonju said his team’s top priority in Tuesday’s Pacific League opener against Burroughs was to make sure to keep the game close by answering the Indians’ first goal with one of their own.

That strategy never really came into play, as its significance was lost in the fact that Burroughs’ first score didn’t come until the Falcons had put up six of their own.

Crescenta Valley, ranked fifth in CIF Southern Section Division V, kept its foot on the gas, finishing with a 19-4 win in which nine players had a hand in the scoring.

“They’ve been such slow starters,” Sakonju said of his team, “that really we wanted to have the attitude of scoring first and if the other team scores then score on the very next possession because we need to have that more aggressive play style and we haven’t had that this season.

“The fact that we had four goals in the first is a vast improvement over other games.”

Crescenta Valley scored four goals in the first quarter, including one apiece from Daniel Park and Griffin Harting and two from Nate Fernandez, who led all scorers with four goals. His goal on a spin inside with 10 seconds left ended a four-minute, five-second second scoring drought, but the Falcons came out firing again in the second quarter and led, 6-0, by the 5:00 mark.

Burroughs (9-4) got on the board with a turnaround from Danny Mairena three seconds later, but found itself facing an 8-1 halftime deficit after Fernandez added a turnaround at the 1:29 mark and Omar Trad beat the buzzer off a feed from Fernandez.

Indians Coach Danny Garcia used his Burroughs girls’ water polo team from the past winter of an example of how things could change between the next time his team meets Crescenta Valley.

“[Our girls’ team] lost, 16-4, the first time we played CV and then we faced them in the [league] championship and only lost to them by two, so these games are just to place us, to seed us,” Garcia said. “Half my team’s got the flu right now, it’s hard for them to move. It’s kind of in their heads, but we’re going to come and we’re going to come back hard.”

Crescenta Valley (5-8) upped its lead to 11-1 over the first 3:30 of the third quarter with more tough defense and aggressive play on offense with goals coming from Alexander Trimis, Stephen Woo and Ben Horton.

“Its’ a step in the right direction,” Sakonju said. “They were a lot more solid.”

The Indians made a 3-1 run to pull within 12-4 on goals by Ryan Cullan, Mairena and Casey Ueno with 1:20 left in the third, but the Falcons closed out the quarter with a goal from John Hales and shut out the Indians in the final period while adding tallies from James Porcell, Harting, Trimis, Woo and Horton.

“It was pretty good,” Fernandez said of the Falcons’ effort. “[We had] good passes, a nice good swimming counter-attack, just looking for open players and playing smart defense.”

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