La Cañada High boys' soccer's Armand Bagramyan makes history with goal scoring prowess

Championships were on the mind on a number of local teams this past year.

At La Cañada High, the boys’ soccer, water polo and golf teams didn’t shirk from their CIF Southern Section or even state championship aspirations, while the Flintridge Prep boys’ basketball team took it a game at a time, all the while hoping for another run to a CIF crown.

All five teams came up short, with the Spartans polo team coming heartbreakingly close, the Rebels falling one game shy at a crack at a title and the others finishing woefully short of their ultimate goal.

Each squad in the quintet — and more — was led by one or two of the best athletes locally, in the area and beyond. A multitude of awards were hauled in by the top 10 male athletes in 2012-13, as voted on by the sports writers and editor of the La Cañada Valley Sun.

Whether on a CIF finalist or one that fell short of a postseason berth, these top-10 players shined wherever they competed.

Here is the list of those select 10:

1 Armand Bagramyan, La Cañada High soccer, senior — There wasn’t one individual athlete as dominant this past season as Bagramyan.

The UC Santa Barbara forward averaged 1.8 goals a game and made history while doing so. Bagramyan broke the La Cañada High single-season scoring record with 43 goals in 24 games to break a 41-goal record set by Spartans great Josh Henderson, who did so in 1996 before going on to a professional career.

“I just love scoring goals and every time I step on the field I have in my mind, ‘I’m going to score,’” Bagramyan said after the season. “I just love scoring, it brings a smile to my face.”

Bagramyan was not only the second most prolific goal scorer in all of California, according to, but the team leader in assists with 21. In all, Bagramyan had a foot in 64 of his team’s 73 goals on the year.

“In terms of scoring goals, he’s probably the best player I’ve ever coached,” La Cañada Coach Alex Harrison said in April. “In terms of understanding the game, getting the game going and understanding the mechanics of the game, his vision, his passion — it’s second to none. He’s at the professional level in terms of how he takes things seriously.”

The explosive force was dangerous no matter how many defenders were following his every move. He scored four goals in three games, produced five other hat tricks and racked up 12 multi-goal games on the year.

When the season, ended the individual awards came flooding in for Bagramyan. He was named an All-American third-team player by the Elite Soccer Report, the All-Area Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year, an All-CIF Southern Section Division V first-teamer and All-Rio Hondo League Offensive Most Valuable Player.

While Bagramyan helped elevate the Spartans to the No. 1 spot in the CIF Southern Section Division V rankings early on, it didn’t translate to the type of ending La Cañada expected or hoped for. It tied South Pasadena in the league standings and South Pas rode it to the league’s top seed for the playoffs and second seed in CIF.

The Spartans, who finished 18-4-2, 8-1-1 in league, fell from the first to fourth seed in Division V and were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by Marshall Fundamental, 2-1. Bagramyan scored La Cañada’s goal on a penalty kick.

“I think I could have done better [this year], honestly,” Bagramyan said in April. “Even though I broke records, did really good and got MVP awards — a lot of them — I think I should have done just a little bit better.”

2 Chase Borisoff, La Cañada High water polo and swimming, senior — Whatever was needed, outside of goalkeeping, was provided by the last of the Borisoffs.

While the senior fell just shy of his and La Cañada’s goal of a sixth CIF title and first in five years, he still hauled in just about every award imaginable. Those included respective seventh and fourth-team All-American and All-Southern California honors, the All-Area Boys’ Water Polo Player of the Year, All-Rio Hondo League co-Most Valuable Player and All-CIF first-team awards.

Borisoff’s greatest strength was his play-making ability. He assisted on 135 goals and drew 78 ejections on the year.

In all his years with the Spartans, Borisoff was always a dangerous assist man. He led the team in helpers since his sophomore year, but was asked to do more scoring of his own in his senior year.

The utility scored 108 goals and was also a defensive force with 47 steals in his finale with La Cañada.

“Chase really was our playmaker and just about everything went through him,” said Devon Borisoff, Chase’s older brother and coach, in December. “He did the little things that we needed in the right spots. He didn't always have to score for us to be successful. He did a lot of things very well.”

Despite falling shy of Borisoff and the Spartans’ goal of a CIF Southern Section Division III title, La Cañada turned in the most successful season of any local boys’ team. It went 23-9, 8-0 in league to reach the CIF Southern Section Division III championship before a 14-9 loss to M.L King.

“It would have been nice to win a CIF title,” Borisoff said after the season. “At La Cañada the expectation every year is to win a CIF title. But we fell a little short this year.

“At La Cañada, because of the history in water polo, there is an expectation every year to win a CIF championship. That was our goal every year I played in the program.”

3 Jared Lebowitz, St. Francis High football and lacrosse, senior — The one-time Vermont prep star statistically shined in his final year with the Golden Knights in 2012.

Lebowitz completed 192 of 350 passes (55%) for 2,560 yards and 23 touchdowns to just seven interceptions, as he was part of a young St. Francis squad that often relied on his senior leadership. Lebowitz also added 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground.

“No doubt, they could’ve been better,” said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds of his quarterback’s statistics had he been with a team who matched his experience. “We were very young up front [on the offensive line]. That affected Jared two ways. We had difficulty protecting him, but we also had difficulty running the ball. So, everybody knew we had to throw the ball and he still put up big numbers.

“For him to put up the numbers he did is pretty darn impressive.”

As for St. Francis, while the Golden Knights finished with a 4-7 season, they tallied victories over Arcadia, Righetti and West Ranch before topping rival St. Paul, 34-14, in the Mission League finale on Nov. 11.

St. Francis did qualify for the postseason and was eliminated in the first round by Lompoc, 42-7.

In January, Lebowitz, who was also a part of the St. Francis lacrosse team’s first-ever season, signed his letter of intent to play with UNLV.

4 Robert Cartwright, Flintridge Prep basketball, junior — The incoming senior guard has been involved in a flurry of recruiting activity since the conclusion of his junior year, having been offered by 22 schools as of early August, according to

Much of the fanfare came after Cartwright posted a season in which he averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game in being named an All-Area and CIF Southern Section Division V-AA first-teamer, along with being named the Prep League MVP.

“Robert was our leader both on and off the floor with his play on both the defensive and offensive end,” Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said after the season. “He made things easier offensively for our guys, getting the guys the ball in the right spots and being able to score.”

Cartwright also led the Rebels to their 11th Prep League championship in the last 12 years before guiding Flintridge Prep (22-7) to a second seed before the start of the postseason.

The Rebels advanced to the semifinals before falling, 60-58, Feb. 22 to Mission Prep at La Cañada High.

Flintridge Prep also lost a tough battle in the first round of the CIF State Division V playoffs.

5 Symeon Stefan, La Cañada High water polo and swimming, senior — When Stefan first joined the Spartans as a junior out of home school, he brought a different dimension and a bunch of goals with him.

Over the past two years, Stefan was La Cañada’s leading goal scorer with a combined 205 goals. He scored 142 of those and tallied 62 assists and 51 steals in helping the Spartans reach the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs in 2012.

There was no better finisher in the pool locally, or perhaps even in the area this year. Along with Chase Borisoff, he gave La Cañada a one-two punch unmatched by many.

Stefan was rewarded for his phenomenal adieu to high school with ninth-team All-American and fifth-team Southern California status. He added co-Rio Hondo League Most Valuable Player and All-Area first-team honors to his resume.

“It’s quite flattering,” Stefan said after being named the co-league MVP with Borisoff. “It’s been a great season and our whole team put in a lot of work throughout the season and we obviously had a good amount of success. It’s just been a really great year.”

Stefan remained a contributor in the pool when the spring and swimming season began. His sprint speed was put to use by the Spartans, who won the Rio Hondo League title and took 10th in CIF Southern Section Division I.

The senior was part of a 200-yard medley relay team of Garrett Chin, Brandon Nguyen and Peter Loakes that set a league record with a time of one minute, 35.70 seconds at league finals on May 3. That same group took eighth at the CIF Southern Section Division I championships in 1:35.17 May 11.

Stefan was also runner-up in the 50 freestyle (23.26) at league finals behind Loakes.

6 Collin Morikawa, La Cañada High golf, sophomore — Morikawa set the bar high for himself as a freshman. He raised it in 2013.

The sophomore matched most everything he did in his debut season that made him the first freshman to be named the Spartans MVP. He won consecutive individual Rio Hondo League championships, led the Spartans to their ninth straight league title and put together a deep individual run in CIF yet again in being named the unanimous choice for All-Area Boys’ Golfer of the Year again.

He trimmed two strokes off his 2012 score in the league finals with a two-under, two-round tally of 134 at Marshall Canyon Golf Club in La Verne. He also posted medalist scores in 10 of 17 matches as opposed to six times in 2012.

His biggest improvement came in CIF when he advanced out of the CIF Southern Section Individual Championship for the first time with a two-over-par 74 to tie for 10th.

As much as he improved, Morikawa left himself hungry for more when he shot an even-par 72 at the CIF/Southern California Golf Assn. Qualifying Tournament at Brookside. He fell just one stroke shy of taking part in an eight-way playoff to determine who’d advance to the CIF State tournament.

“I went out there trying to prove to myself that I can play,” Morikawa said of CIF competition in June. “I got farther this year than last year. I know things that I need to work on for next year and I will. I want to be even better.”

Even after the high school season, Morikawa has continued to shine. He won his first national event with a dominating performance, shooting 13-under-par 271 at the Western Junior on June 21. It was the lowest 72-hole score at a Western Junior tournament since Hunter Mahan carded a 266 in 1999.

7 Charles McCarthy, St. Francis boys’ volleyball, senior — The University of Pacific-headed senior may have been the area’s best offensive talent in volleyball.

A 6-foot-5 outside hitter, McCarthy led his team with 362 kills and nabbed both a first-team selection on the All-Area and All-Mission League squads.

“A lot of people depended on me to help get the job done,” said McCarthy after the season. “I just went out there and kept trying to improve my game.

“It was a goal of mine to try to get on the first team. There are so many great players in our league and there's respect out there. It's definitely a tough league.”

While St. Francis finished 7-12, tied for fifth in place in the Mission League and missed the playoffs, McCarthy did see postseason action at the second annual San Gabriel Valley All-Star Boys’ Volleyball Game at La Salle on June 9.

In that contest, McCarthy was named the Private School MVP after leading all scorers with 28 kills, two blocks and one ace.

As for city dominance, the Golden Knights finished 3-0 with two victories over Flintridge Prep and a win over La Cañada.

8 Guillermo Padilla, La Cañada High wrestling, junior — One has to wonder what could have been for Padilla had he not been injured in his first match at the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet.

With that in mind, one has to admire what Padilla accomplished at Masters.

The Rio Hondo League champion heavyweight and the Spartans’ most dominant wrestler strained an Achilles’ ligament and sprained his right ankle in his first match at Masters. He toughed it out and pinned his first opponent before moving on to face the top seed in the bracket. This time, he was pinned quickly.

There was no throwing in the towel for Padilla, who picked up consecutive pinfall victories in the consolation bracket. With a chance to lock up a top-nine finish at Masters and a state berth, Padilla was pinned and then lost his next match on decision, 3-1, to end his gutsy run.

“Regardless of what happened today, he’s still one of the top three wrestlers to ever come out of La Cañada in terms of how far he advanced,” La Cañada High Coach Gavin Williams said.

The success came after a surprising sprint to sixth place in the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division championships in 2012. Padilla improved on that this year, taking fourth in the division.

While Padilla will take aim at the CIF State tournament in the winter, he’s branching out in his senior season. The 6-foot-1, 250 pounder went out for football for the first time since 2010 and has put himself in position to start as an offensive and defensive tackle.

9 Chadd Cosse, Flintridge Prep football/boys’ basketball/boys’ volleyball, senior — There might not have been a more well-rounded area athlete than Cosse, a three-sport standout.

Cosse played an integral part in the Prep League championship Flintridge Prep boys’ volleyball and basketball teams and in the historic run of the football team.

Cosse may have performed best on the gridiron as a tight end and linebacker and earned a CIF Southern Section Northeast Division, All-Area and Prep League first-team honors.

On defense, Cosse tallied 67.5 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and two blocked kicks, while being an excellent blocking tight end.

The Rebels (6-5) finished runner-up in the Prep League and won a first-round football playoff game, the first for the team since 2003.

On the basketball court, Cosse was a Prep League second-team selection and finished averaging 8.5 points and 7.4 boards per game as a power forward for the Rebels (22-7), who won the Prep League title and advanced to the semifinals of the Division V-AA playoffs.

Only days after the basketball season concluded, Cosse joined the Rebels’ volleyball team (19-8), which won an undefeated league title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division IV playoffs.

The outside hitter was a Prep League first-teamer and led the squad with 203 kills, while adding 69 digs and 16 aces on the year.

10 Brandon Nguyen, La Cañada High swim, senior — Following in the footsteps of Bo Mattix and a number of great Spartans swimmers, Nguyen was the unquestioned leader for the La Cañada High swim program in his senior season.

Nguyen proved that when he set three Rio Hondo League records, doing so twice in individual races. He took down the oldest record in the books when he touched the wall in the 100-yard breaststroke in a personal-best 56.69 seconds to easily top the 1992 record (57.50).

La Cañada’s anchor was a terrific all-around swimmer, winning the league 200 individual medley in 1:51.51, which bested his own record from a year ago. He also teamed with Garrett Chin, Symeon Stefan and Peter Loakes to win the 200-medley relay in a record 1:35.70.

Nguyen swept all his races at league finals by winning the 400-freestyle relay in 3:13.83 with Loakes, Chin and Dane Bell.

Nguyen dropped time and placed in the top eight in three of his four CIF Southern Section Division I races and in the top 15 each time. He placed sixth in the 200 IM (1:51.35), seventh in the breaststroke (57.02), eighth in the 200-medley relay (1:35.17) and 15th in the 400-freestyle relay (3:10.43).

With Nguyen leading the way, the Spartans won their 13th straight league title with a 6-0, 5-0 in league record. They took 10th in Division I.

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