Born to be a Borisoff

Chase Borisoff of the La Cañada High boys' water polo team has always had an uncanny ability to make the perfect pass that sets up a teammate with a clear shot at goal.

"The thing I love about Chase is he's probably the least selfish person on the team," La Cañada senior driver Johnny Louk said. "He has different connections with everyone on the team. He has such a great passing ability that he will set me up with an easy shot with some amazing pass and make me look good when it was really all him."

Borisoff credits that ability — a byproduct of his superior pool vision — to time he spent out of the pool, not in it.

It's a talent that's come from nearly a decade's worth of time watching his two brothers, Devon and Spencer, play in the same pool he now spends a large chunk of his time in at La Cañada High.

"That's when I learned everything I know about water polo, I've watched more water polo than anyone," Chase said. "I've seen countless games of Devon and Spencer in age group all the way up to high school and college. I've just been around it my whole life, even when I was in elementary school I would be on the deck for every single one of the high school games.

"Obviously growing up with Devon, my dad [Derek] being a coach, now Devon being my coach and Spencer was a great player, I've always been enveloped in water polo."

Devon and Spencer didn't just compete at La Cañada. They dominated.

Each took home All-Rio Hondo League, All-CIF, All-Area and All-American honors in high school. In their eight years at La Cañada, the Spartans won eight league titles and two CIF Southern Section Division titles with Devon and Spencer each winning a crown.

The Borisoff name has been synonymous with La Cañada water polo as a result, especially with Derek serving as the president of the La Cañada Water Polo Club, which allows the Spartans to compete together in the high school off season.

There have been pros and cons to being a Borisoff for Chase. His surname brought him instant respect and recognition as an underclassman, but that's turned into pressure in his junior and senior years, as he's developed into one of the Spartans' leaders.

"There's definitely a certain expectation level that goes along with [being a Borisoff]," said Devon, who's in his fourth year with the La Cañada varsity team and first as head coach. "I am always surprised at how well Chase handles all that pressure, all those expectations and how he never really lets it rattle him. He just goes out there, kicks ass and plays well for us no matter what."

The greatest pressure Chase faces is winning a CIF title this season, especially since both his brothers accomplished that feat.

"That's what drives everything I do," Chase said. "Obviously, I want to win for myself, but I have a lot of expectations to live up to also, especially this year. I've never wanted anything more than to win a CIF championship with La Cañada water polo. With this being my last year, that's really the only thing I'm focusing on for the next couple of months."

While Devon knows his brother is determined to win it all this season, he said he's definitely not alone. The entire Spartans squad, which is loaded with senior talent like Chase, Louk, Symeon Stefan, Alden Geller, Bryce Hopkins and Nathan Dickie, is fixated on winning the program's first CIF title in five years.

"All these boys, that's what they want more than anything else," Devon said. "That's what we've been working for every year for the past three years. Every year we get closer and that's always La Cañada's goal."

The Spartans reached the semifinals for the first time since 2007 last year after they were eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2010.

It was a heartbreaking ending to 2011, as La Cañada came so close to an appearance in the title game before being routed by Laguna Beach, 14-5. That's all served as motivation this year, though.

"We use that as motivation on our team," Devon said. "We always talk about the fact that we never want to feel that again. We never want to feel that losing feeling in the playoffs again when the season's over. We majorly use that as motivation every single day to become the best team we possibly can and try to correct it next time so it doesn't happen again."

Chase has stepped into a bigger role this season for the Spartans in order to help his team achieve that. He's become more of a goal scorer with 81 so far this year — not including any he had in the Bellarmine Tournament — to put him well above the 55 he had in 2011. He's also leading the team in ejections drawn and has served as an emotional leader as well.

"Chase basically brings a whole sense of charisma to our team because he knows the sport so well," Louk said. "He calms us down in big game situations and he pumps us up before the games."

Still, it's Chase's passing ability that really separates him from the pack. He has 100 assists already this year — also not including those he tallied in the Bellarmine Tournament.

"Chase is our facilitator and our playmaker," Devon said. "He always has the ball in his hand and is making a lot of the decisions on where it needs to go and who's going to end up scoring a goal."

There's a good chance Chase can surpass the team-high 135 assists he produced last season, which helped earn him All-Area and all-league first-team honors and an All-CIF third-team nod. He also led the team in assists as a sophomore with 61.

Over the past two seasons, Chase has notched more assists than the entire La Cañada team combined, Devon said.

"Obviously, you get your name in the paper when you score all the goals and stuff, but I'm fine with just passing the ball," Chase said. "I like getting the assists. It doesn't really matter to me, as long as we win it's all good."

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