Slow start dooms Crescenta Valley water polo

WALNUT — Often times, teams meeting in the playoffs aren’t too familiar with each other. That wasn’t the case when the Crescenta Valley High boys’ water polo team met Walnut on Wednesday afternoon.

Crescenta Valley and Walnut played Oct. 23 in a nonleague game. Crescenta Valley Coach Jan Sakonju recorded the match and provided film to each of his players to study in case the teams met in the postseason.

The Falcons reviewed the film Monday and Tuesday, but it didn’t seem to provide any help in the rematch as Walnut picked up an 8-6 win against visiting Crescenta Valley in a CIF Southern Section Division V first-round match at Mount San Antonio College.

“We watched the film from the [regular-season] game,” said Sakonju, whose team picked up a 10-7 nonleague win against Walnut at Pasadena City College. “The moment it came down to making plays today, we didn’t make the plays.

“We fell behind early and that’s a lot of ground to make up.”

Walnut (13-13) held an 8-2 lead entering the fourth quarter before Crescenta Valley (13-15) made a late charge. Walnut, which captured a share of the Hacienda League championship, will next meet third-seeded Pasadena Poly in a quarterfinal match at Pasadena Poly on Saturday. Poly earned a 17-5 first-round victory against Pasadena.

Crescenta Valley, which finished third in the Pacific League behind top-seeded Glendale and Burbank, had plenty of quality scoring chances. The Falcons continued to pepper Walnut goalkeeper Jonathan Ong-Siong, who finished with 15 saves.

Scott McDill paced Walnut with a match-high four goals. McDill had two goals in the first and third quarters.

Sakonju said the Falcons needed to stop McDill to have an opportunity to advance.

“He’s there go-to guy and we knew what he likes to do,” Sakonju said. “Usually, we are good as shutting down the other team’s top players, but not today.”

McDill scored a pair of goals in the first quarter less than three minutes apart, including a five-meter goal to make it 2-0 with 2:34 remaining. Michael Moon scored to make it 3-0 with 1:47 left.

Brian Dertli cut the deficit to 3-1 with 14 seconds later. Walnut then tallied three goals in a little more than three minutes midway through the second quarter to grab a 6-1 advantage. Antonio Camarillo of Crescenta Valley made it 6-2 with 33 seconds remaining in the first half.

McDill gave Walnut a 7-2 lead on a five-meter goal with 6:08 left in the third quarter. He made it 8-2 with 23 seconds left in the third quarter.

Crescenta Valley made a late comeback bid, highlighted by two goals from Dertli and one apiece from Griffin Harting and Nate Fernandez.

 “The guys were down being that far behind early,” said Sakonju, who got 11 saves from goalkeeper Robert Menke. “We had to attack and play with desperation.

“We got confused early on in terms of where there main players were. That caused the defense to be out of sync.”

Dertli said the Falcons had a difficult time getting started.

“I think it was a combination of nerves and the overall excitement,” Dertli said. “We made some mistakes early.

“We focused on McDill, he just went different places and we should have adjusted to what he was doing.”

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