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Berger selected Pacific's top player

Soccer: Crescenta Valley High midfielder named Pacific League's Most Valuable Player for first time.

March 19, 2012|By Charles Rich

When Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer Coach Grant Clark showed up for a meeting to determine the All-Pacific League team, he encountered a surprise.

None of the league's other seven coaches had submitted considerations for a league most valuable player, so Clark took the initiative and suggested his two top players, Alex Berger and Pavle Atanackovic, as potential candidates for the honor. A short time later, according to Clark, each coached voted for Berger.

Berger was bestowed with the honor for the first time after leading the Falcons to the league championship for the third season in a row. The senior midfielder finished with 10 goals and 29 assists for 49 points and helped the Falcons (23-1-6, 12-0-2) capture the CIF Southern Section Division IV championship and advance to the CIF Southern California Regional Championships Division I final.

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"I figured some of the coaches had some of their own guys up for consideration," Clark said. "I told them they needed to decide who they wanted to vote for and it was Alex.

"He had a fabulous year and he made our offense go because he could see the field so well. He knew where to put the ball and the others finished. He's head and shoulders the top midfielder in our league and division."

Berger, a reigning All-Area first-team honoree, said he was a bit shocked at picking up the honor while playing for a team filled with standouts.

"It never even crossed my mind and I was a little surprised to be considered," Berger said. "I played as hard as I could when I got on to the field.

"To get MVP is a great honor. It's another thing to happen in what turned out to be a great year winning league, CIF and going to state. Things fell into place for me and the team and my teammates helped me out a lot."

Crescenta Valley, which won its final 12 matches in league, had four players named to the first team and three to the second team. Hoover and Glendale had one player each named to the second team.

Atanackovic, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year, Salar Hajimirsadeghi, Matt Schmutzer and Nick Ruiz of Crescenta Valley were selected to the first team.

Atanackovic finished with a school-record 39 goals and nine assists for an area-leading 87 points. Atanackovic, who will attend UC Irvine in the fall, scored three or more goals in four league matches.

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