Fantastic finish for Crescenta Valley polo in win over Prep

PASADENA — Monday's nonleague contest was exactly the type of match the Crescenta Valley and Flintridge Prep boys' water polo teams were expecting when they scheduled a nonleague contest just days before their own crucial league showdowns.

It featured stellar defense by the Falcons in the second quarter.

It included a surprising rally by the Rebels in the third quarter.

And the match had a fantastic finish.

A fantastic finish for the Falcons, that is.

The Falcons broke a tie score with three unanswered goals to defeat the Rebels, 11-8, on Monday at Pasadena City College, a day before the Falcons begin the Pacific League preliminaries and two days before Flintridge Prep resumes Prep League play against rival Pasadena Poly.

Even though the Rebels (11-10) lost, they knew they were bested by a better team, according to the CIF Southern Section Division V rankings. Prep is the 10th-ranked team in the division, and the Falcons (15-7) are tied for second.

"This gives us a look at a top-level team," Rebel Coach Dan Hare said. "It reminded us that on any given day, when we execute, we can compete against anybody."

The Rebels pushed the Falcons.

The score was tied at 3 after the first quarter, as six players scored, with the Rebels' John Treinen scoring with 27 seconds to play in the first quarter to tie it.

Treinen's score would be the Rebels' last in the first half.

Nate Fernandez, Brandon Fernandez and Trevor Goddard each scored in the second quarter to give the Falcons a 6-3 halftime lead.

"We're a team that has put away some goals," Hare said. "Some mental mistakes in the second quarter were magnified. We're an offensive-minded team that wasn't able to score. That is an attribute of their defense."

Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju has built a defensive-minded team.

"That's where our team success has come from," Sakonju said.

Added Goddard: "We try to put defense first and push the counter."

Goddard also admitted that his team started "slowing down" in the third quarter.

After Daniel Park scored on a rebound to give the Falcons a 7-3 lead, Crescenta Valley "slacked off," according to Fernandez.

The Falcons' lapses allowed the Rebels to score four unanswered goals, one apiece from Jamie Walker, Ethan Vandeventer, Diego Delgado and Treinen. Delgado's score with 4:58 remaining in the third quarter snapped a scoreless streak of nine minutes.

"Our senior core had the sense that we're never out of game," said Hare, who received two goals apiece from Delgado and Treinen. "They learned how to chip away, especially as the game gets more important."

Crescenta Valley returned to its core defensive values in the crucial stages of the fourth quarter.

The Falcons forced five turnovers in the final quarter and allowed just five Prep shots. Goddard scored two goals in a span of 99 seconds and Nate Fernandez added another goal for a 10-7 Falcon lead. Goddard and Nate Fernandez each finished with three goals and Omar Trad added a goal and an assist.

"We had to get a stop," Sakonju said. "The defense had to get the momentum in the game back.

"For us, experience wise, that was exactly why we played this game and rented this pool. We had to play a quality opponent like Flintridge Prep to get playoff-type performances."

The Falcons' intense matches will continue in Tuesday's league preliminary match against Pasadena at 4:30 p.m. at Burbank High.

A Falcon win would likely put Crescenta Valley and Glendale — which plays Burbank in the preliminaries — in the league championship match on Thursday. The Nitros — who defeated the Falcons, 12-11, on Oct. 10 —- are the top-ranked team in the division.

Said Sakonju: "We're not overlooking Pasadena, it was a one-goal game the last time we played them.

"But we want Glendale."

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