“A big part of [the team was] probably role players or on the JV team last year,” said Loporchio, who had 20 players for Thursday’s 7-6 opening round win against Nipomo, with 13 of them being underclassmen.
Rio Mesa, which defeated Temple City, 6-3, in its opener, is far more experienced.
“They have some good quality returning players,” said Loporchio of the Spartans, who feature upper classmen Jenny Jamison and Morgan McCardell, as well as freshman Courtney Walters, who had two goals and four steals in the first round. “[Walters] can certainly control a game.”
Another bit of intrigue is that the matchup is the same as the Division VI boys’ water polo final, in which Crescenta Valley beat Rio Mesa for its first water polo title.
“We’re beginning to establish familiarity,” Loporchio said. “I think I can speak for Jan [Sakonju, the Falcons boys’ coach], in that we have a lot of respect for the quality of the program that Rio Mesa has. Whether it’s boys or girls, they have that combination of club kids, quality facilities and good coaches.”
For the Falcons to pull off the upset, Loporchio believes three things are key: Converting shots into goals, matching the Spartans intensity and being able to match Rio Mesa’s level of play.
“It’s not only a part of us being able to play effectively offensively, but us being able to play at their level,” said Loporchio, whose offense has been led by sophomore Kim Fraisse, but has been plagued all season by inconsistent shooting. “We gotta be able to match their intensity from the start.”
A slow start to the Nipomo contest put the Falcons, who, should they win will face either South Pasadena or Cabrillo on Tuesday, behind early. It’s an aspect Loporchio’s hopeful his team has learned from, because, different as this team’s been from last season’s, the last thing it wants is the same ending.
?GRANT GORDON is the sports editor. He can be reached at (818) 637-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.