Crescenta Valley's Isacson named Division V MVP in water polo

All those mornings of getting up early for practice, followed by three additional hours of practice after school might have seemed overwhelming at first for Gabriel Isacson.

If the goalkeeper for the Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo team wanted positive results and the challenge of vying for a CIF Southern Section Division V championship, the practice sessions would be paramount for her to succeed.

"Our practices were a lot harder," said Isacson, a senior who was named All-CIF Southern Section Division V Player of the Year after helping lead the Falcons to the program's first CIF championship. "It was tough waking up early, but it was worth it in the end because we all wanted to win a championship together.

"It took a while to get used to the schedule. You put in the hard work and you get the results."

Isacson was one of seven Falcons (32-2, 8-0 in the Pacific League for first place) bestowed with All-CIF recognition. The CIF Southern Section office unveiled the first teams for all seven divisions Monday.

Isacson finished with 147 saves in helping the Falcons win their fourth straight league crown. In the Division V championship match against Riverside Poly, Isacson finished with 16 saves to spark Crescenta Valley to a 10-5 win in Irvine.

Crescenta Valley first-year Coach Brent Danna said Isacson served as the cornerstone of the program.

"She had the ability to go out there and make a big block when it counted most," said Danna, who was named the division's coach of the year. "You could tell early on in the championship game that Riverside Poly that they would have a tough time scoring.

"The defense played with more confidence knowing they had her back there."

Also receiving All-CIF recognition were Shannon Hovanesian, Elissa Arnold, Katie Benson, Ashley Taylor, Breana Lawton and Audrey Taylor.

Arnold, Benson, Ashley Taylor and Hovanesian were named to the first team.

Hovanesian, a junior utility player, posted a team-leading 81 goals, 106 steals and 90 assists. Arnold, a junior hole/set, finished with 80 goals, 72 steals and 38 assists.

Benson, a senior driver, provided the Falcons with quality outside shooting. She recorded 55 goals, to go along with 93 steals and 42 assists. Ashley Taylor, a junior utility player, finished with 65 goals, 50 steals and 30 assists.

"Elissa brought a strong work ethic and did a lot of things well," Danna said. "Katie was our best outside shooter and she could make good reads and passes.

"Shannon was able to dictate the matchups and she made us click offensively. With Ashley, she was probably our best two-meter defender and stepped up on both sides of the ball."

Lawton, a senior driver, finished with 65 steals, 45 assists and 34 goals en route to being named to the second team. Audrey Taylor, a freshman driver, was named to the third team.

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