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Crescenta Valley soccer searching for another first

After winning the CIF Southern Section Division IV title last season, Crescenta Valley moves up to Division III.

November 21, 2012|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com
  • ARCHIVE PHOTO: Crescenta Valley defender Matt Bracht is one of several key returning players for the Falcons.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Crescenta Valley defender Matt Bracht… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

Before they take the field for their first official match, the members of the Crescenta Valley High boys’ soccer team will not be in line to defend the CIF Southern Section Division IV championship they won last season.

Things will look mighty different for the Falcons, who have been moved up to Division III and lost a plethora of key players to graduation who helped the Falcons win their third straight Pacific League championship before winning the program’s first CIF title and making an inaugural appearance in the CIF Southern California Regional Championships Division I championship match.

There will be some new opportunities on the horizon for the Falcons, and that’s fine with Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark.

“It would have been nice to have stayed in Division IV and tried to repeat,” said Clark, whose team is ranked No. 1 in the Division III preseason poll. “It will be a good challenge to see what we are made of and how we can adjust to being in a new division.

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“I think we will have a good balance of athletes are very competitive. Last year, we took on the role of being underdog. Now, we are on the other side.”

Crescenta Valley lost forward Pavle Atanackovic, midfielder Alex Berger and goalkeeper Nick Ruiz, among others, to graduation. Atanackovic scored a school-record 39 goals and 87 points last season to earn All-Area Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year honors for the second straight season. Berger was named the league’s and division’s most valuable player and Ruiz shined in net.

While Clark said those players will be missed, the Falcons must move on after going 23-1-6, 12-0-2 in league last season.

“Regardless of who we have coming back or what division we are in, we have to be ready to play at a high level and they know to expect that,” Clark said. “It’s about how you are able to respond. We have some players who we have brought up to fill the holes that were left by the players who graduated.

“League will be a lot similar to last season with maybe a couple of teams pulling away from the pack. We want to win league again and we know we will get everybody’s best effort each time.”

Crescenta Valley will return several key players, including defender Matthew Bracht, defender Brian Ju, midfielder Erick Trejo and forward Eric Keshishian. Trejo and Bracht netted All-Area first- and second-team spots, respectively, last season.

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