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Elissa Arnold, Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo maintain tradition of greatness

Water Polo: Despite key graduations and defections, senior helped keep Falcons successful.

April 11, 2014|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com

To look at the body of work compiled by the Crescenta Valley High girls’ water polo team this past season is to grab a snapshot of another successful campaign for the area’s top program.

The Falcons finished 24-7, captured a fifth straight Pacific League championship and advanced to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

Such success has become consistent and expected at a program that rose to prominence under coach Pete Loporchio and reached its pinnacle with Brent Danna at the helm.

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Yet, perhaps to chalk up the 2013-14 season as just another great season is to ignore one of the program’s uniquely successful years.

“I couldn't really say what our expectations were heading into this year,” said Danna, who’s coached the Falcons the last two seasons. “We naturally set our expectations high, but honestly we lost some great players to graduation and then arguably our best player, as well.”

Expectations varied for Crescenta Valley entering the 2013-14 season.

The Falcons cemented their legitimacy as an area power by winning the program's first-ever CIF Southern Section Division V championship in February of 2013.

However, the majority of a senior-laden starting squad, which included All-Area Player of the Year Gabriel Isacson and All-Area players Katie Benson and Breana Lawton, graduated.

Throw in the unexpected loss of All-Area first-teamer Shannon Hovanesian before the beginning of the season for personal reasons and a team looking to defend its crown suddenly appeared vulnerable.

“It was an interesting dynamic,” Falcons senior Lynley Fernandez said. “There were some people who expected us to be amazing like the previous years and others who didn’t think the girls returning would be able to fill the void.”

Only two starters from the title team returned, one being senior center Elissa Arnold.

“I really didn’t know what to think before the season started,” Arnold said. “It’s hard losing one great player let alone all the seniors who led the team to a championship. To take over for someone like Shannon shifted my personal expectations and those of the team. I think our goal heading into this season was to go as far as we possibly could.”

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