Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo knocks off surprising Glendale

LA CRESCENTA — Generally when there’s a 12-goal differential in girls’ water polo, one team walks away pleased and the other disappointed.

Such was the case following Thursday afternoon’s Pacific League showdown between visiting Glendale High and Crescenta Valley — only it was the winning team that was disappointed.

PHOTOS: Crescenta Valley vs. Glendale girls' water polo

The CIF Southern Section Division V third-ranked Falcons recovered from an early deficit for a 19-7 win versus the ninth-ranked Nitros in a light mist.

Crescenta Valley second-year Coach Brent Danna wasn’t exactly thrilled.

“I’m not really satisfied with this,” Danna said. “Glendale came out and took a 4-2 lead after one quarter. They were ready to play and we were nervous for some reason and didn’t come out ready to play.

“[Glendale co-Coach] Forest [Holbrook] did a great job drawing fouls outside of five meters, slowing the game down. We’ve got to do a better job coming out ready to play and taking better passes. I’m only really happy with the final score.”

Despite their struggles, the Falcons (18-4, 5-0 in league) held a 6-4 lead at halftime and eventually opened up the contest in the third quarter.

The Falcons dominated the third quarter in nearly every aspect, winning the frame, 6-1, in taking a seven-goal advantage into the fourth, while outshooting Glendale, 11-8.

Crescenta Valley commenced by netting the quarter’s first five goals in taking an 11-4 advantage after a score from Brynn Fernandez off an assist from Natalie Kresbach (three assists) with 1:59 remaining.

The goal was the ninth straight for the Falcons going back to the first quarter.

In comparison, Glendale (11-3, 4-1) was in the midst of an over 12-minute long drought that finally ended on a long-distance goal from Rima Gasparyan (two goals) off an assist from Lisa Mekhitarian with 1:48 left that brought the Nitros within 11-5.

Unfortunately for Glendale, momentum never came back its way, as Ashley Taylor (five goals, four assists and four steals) scored off an assist from Krebsbach 23 seconds later to give Crescenta Valley a 12-5 lead after three quarters.

The Falcons put the game to rest in the fourth, winning the quarter, 7-2.

“I was happy with the way our team played throughout the entire game,” Holbrook said. “Coming out with a quick lead was really exciting for us, you know. We’re playing against one of the top teams in high school water polo arguably and Danna does a great job getting his team ready.

“We knew we were going to be tested against one of the best teams in high school water polo and I was proud of how we played.”

Glendale delivered a surprising first-quarter salvo in leading, 4-2.

The Nitros’ defense, fueled by two steals from Naira Sarkian, forced four turnovers and rallied from a 2-1 deficit with two goals from Melani Aghazarian in taking a 3-2 advantage. The Nitros then closed the first quarter on a mid-pool make from Sarkian (three goals, five steals and two assists) off an assist from goalie Shushanik Gabrielyan with 3.5 seconds remaining.

Perhaps no quarter was as important for Crescenta Valley than the second, as the Falcons blanked the Nitros, who only attempted three shots, thanks primarily to a pressing defense that forced nine turnovers.

Crescenta Valley knotted the game at 4 after back-to-back steals from Audrey Taylor (game-high six goals, three steals and two assists) resulted in goals from Elissa Arnold (four goals, three assists and six steals) and Ashley Taylor, the latter with 2:46 remaining in the first half.

The Falcons then took the lead for good on a goal from Ani Aghakhanian created off her own steal and assisted from Krebsbach with 2:18 left. The Falcons added one more score from Audrey Taylor before the half.

“We were prepared for Glendale and we knew they were going to come at us hard in the first and we tried to keep up with them and then play the game as we know it,” said Aghakhanian, who tallied two goals and one steal. “In the second quarter, we played as more of a team. We got our head in the game.”

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