ARCADIA — Any time rival schools clash in league play, the stakes are raised regardless of the level of success of each program.
But in the case of the Pacific League girls’ water polo contest Thursday afternoon, visiting Crescenta Valley High’s skill and execution trumped all other factors, as the Falcons dominated host Arcadia, 22-2.
“[Arcadia] is our school's rival,” Falcon Katie Benson said. “So you have to go out there and prove it to our school that, yeah, we got this. It’s exciting to go and play our rivals no matter what.”
It was the league opener for Crescenta Valley (13-1, 1-0), which got a total team effort on offense and defense. Eight Falcons scored goals, with multiple goals from seven of those players, led by four apiece from Ashley Taylor and Cameron Campbell. The Falcons routinely would drive the ball down the side of the pool and pass across to find teammates who routinely found themselves wide open for the shot.
“We try to work the ball down the right side of the pool because we don’t have any left-handed girls and so we’ve got the cross pass that is always strong side,” Crescenta Valley Coach Brent Danna said. “But our big thing is always looking at both sides of the goal and creating opportunities on both side of the goal to score. So, the more we can cross the ball over the center line of the goal, the more difficult it is for the defense to adjust and for the goalie to make a block.”
Campbell had three goals in the third period which saw the Falcons score eight goals. Taylor, who was also a rock solid anchor in the middle of the defense, got the scoring started at the 4:06 mark of the first quarter with a shot from the right side after receiving a pass across the pool.
“I think our defense and our awareness were major parts of this game,” Taylor said.
The Falcons, ranked No. 2 in CIF-Southern Section Division V, held a slim two-goal advantage heading into the final minute of the first quarter before Campbell and Any Aghakhanian each got a late goal to take a 4-0 advantage. Each was set up by a pass from Benson who, along with Aghakhanian and Elissa Arnold, each finished with three goals.
Benson scored 22 seconds into the second period. The Falcons then put the game out of reach midway through the quarter with a four-goal spurt in a span of just less than two minutes. Continuing the trend that started in the first quarter and would hold in both the third and fourth quarters, Taylor scored for CV in the final minute of the second using a lob shot with 45 seconds to give her team a 10-0 lead at the break.
Arcadia (2-6, 0-2) scored both of its goals in the third period with both coming after exclusion penalties on Crescenta Valley. Apache Laura Chun scored 25 seconds into the third on a shot that deflected off some arms on its way to the goalmouth eluding keeper Maggie Connell who had taken over for starter Gabriel Isacson after halftime. The Falcons then scored the next seven goals before Christa Lam scored on a long shot from right side with 43 seconds to go. Caitlin Connell, who got both her scores in the period, quickly answered with 19 seconds left.
“[Crescenta Valley] is just very well-coached and very well-prepared,” Arcadia Coach Ara Oganesyan said. “But it is great because it is a good standard to try to live up to.”
The fourth quarter lacked the crispness of offensive execution the Falcons had exhibited up to that point, but they did notch four more goals. The final two came from Aghakhanian, the last of which came on a shot from the center with 18 seconds to go.
The Falcons continue Pacific League play with a home game against Hoover on Tuesday.