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Isacson excels as Falcons' ball hawk

Junior goalkeeper Gabriel Isacson has jumped right into starting goalkeeper role for CV squad on CIF mission.

January 18, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

Among the members of the Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo team, you won't find any big egos or prima donnas. To hear Coach Pete Loporchio tell it, the Falcons, who are off to an 18-0 start thanks to their depth and team-first approach, are a pretty selfless bunch who would just as soon pass off credit for the team's hot start.

But, inevitably much of that praise and acknowledgment gets deflected back toward junior goalkeeper Gabriel Isacson, whose play in goal has been the backbone of the Falcons' vaunted defense and whose play making as a passer keeps Crescenta Valley's counter razor sharp.

"She's an amazing goalie. ...With how much hard work she puts into everything, Gabriel's just all-around a great player and a great person," Falcons attacker Sabrina Hatzer says.

Fellow CV attacker Breanna Lawton doesn't hold back either when describing Isacson's value to the defending Pacific League champions, who are ranked third in CIF Southern Section Division V and looking to build on last year's trip to the CIF semifinals.

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"She's really great defensively," Lawton says. "She talks to us a lot on defense, like where she wants us to go and running our defensive plays. She's really vocal and that helps the team out tremendously. Overall, our defense this year is pretty good and with her help, it just makes it that much better."

With neither above-average height nor an all-encompassing wingspan in her favor, the 5-foot-7 Isacson instead relies on her quickness, lateral mobility and ball-tracking skills. Those traits, along with her composure and conditioning, have the first-year varsity starter quickly making her place in the line of succession of outstanding Crescenta Valley goalies, out of which Loporchio estimates there's been seven All-CIF honorees over the last 15 seasons.

"She's pretty slight and she's not six feet tall, but you can't tell that when she's in the water because her leg strength is tremendous," Loporchio says. "She's a tremendous shot blocker with very strong legs. She doesn't get easily rattled, she has a very good temperament."

It's been hard to rattle the Falcons' defense as a whole this year. Entering Tuesday's 21-10 league win over Pasadena, in which Isacson registered 11 saves in three quarters, Loporchio said the team was averaging 3.5 goals allowed per match, down nearly a goal and a half from last season, while the offense has averaged 14 goals.

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