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Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo relies on defense for title win over Glendale

Water polo: Falcons shake off early struggles to defeat Nitros, 13-1, to claim outright Pacific League championship.

February 13, 2014|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • Crescenta Valley High's Elissa Arnold winds and fires a shot attempt with Glendale's Naira Sarkian defending during the Pacific League championship match at Burbank High Thursday. (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer)
Crescenta Valley High's Elissa Arnold winds and…

BURBANK — Defense has long been a cornerstone for Crescenta Valley High girls’ water polo success.

Thus, on Thursday, as a lack of offensive execution and production drew the ire of Falcons Coach Brent Danna, it was defensive dominance throughout that still afforded Crescenta Valley a comfortable 13-1 victory against Glendale in the Pacific League Tournament final at Burbank High to wrap up the league crown.

“Everything’s defense,” said Crescenta Valley’s Elissa Arnold, who had four goals and four steals. “We’ve definitely had an emphasis on defense since my freshman year.”

PHOTOS: Defensive dominance lands Crescenta Valley girls' water polo victory

Crescenta Valley (21-6, 8-0 in league), ranked third in CIF Southern Section Division V, wrapped up its fifth straight league title at the expense of ninth-ranked Glendale (15-7, 6-2), though both teams will learn their playoff fates on Sunday, when postseason pairings are released by the CIF office. The Falcons will set out in hopes of defending their Division V title, which they won last season under Danna for the program’s first plaque.

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Glendale played stellar defensively in the early going, as well, trailing just 1-0 after a quarter of play, but the Falcons were able to surge ahead with a four-goal second quarter and held the Nitros scoreless until a Melanie Aghazarian goal with 4:35 to go in the game.

“Crescenta Valley’s one of the top teams in our division and we expected a really tough game,” said Nitros co-Coach Forest Holbrook, who left shortly after the game to accept, along with his team, a CIF championship ring after leading the school’s boys’ team to its first-ever CIF title in the fall. “We couldn’t be more proud of our girls.

“There wasn’t any moment where the girls stopped playing hard.”

But the Falcons began to surge ahead in the second stanza when Ashley Taylor (four goals, five steals) scored with 3:54 left in the half to break a Falcons scoring drought and begin an offensive rhythm.

Audrey Taylor (three goals) lobbed in a goal with 2:03 to go, Arnold scored off an Ashley Taylor assist 31 seconds later and Audrey Taylor scored off an Arnold pass with 27 ticks left to take a 5-0 halftime edge.

Then came another four goals in the third quarter as the Falcons put the game out of reach.

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