Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo

ARCHIVE PHOTO: The Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo team was voted the No. 1 team of the 2012-13 season after dominating its way to its first-ever CIF championship. (Scott Smeltzer/Staff Photographer / August 17, 2013)

The top 10 high school teams from the 2012-13 season were selected by the Glendale News-Press sports department.

1 Crescenta Valley girls’ water polo — Under first-year coach Brent Danna, things quickly came together for the Falcons in what proved to be a historic season that culminated in the program winning its first CIF championship.

After two previous appearances in the CIF Southern Section Division V semifinals, the Falcons shrugged off the tough defeats and came back into the mix prepared to win the elusive CIF crown.

They remained at or near the top of the weekly division polls throughout the season and won another Pacific League championship. Goalkeeper Gabriel Isacson and utility player Shannon Hovanesian took home the highest honors on what was far from a two-girl show for the extremely balanced Falcons team.

Isacson (228 saves, 19 steals and 18 assists) was named All-Area Girls’ Water Polo Player of the Year along with earning All-CIF Division V Player of the Year. Hovanesian (81 goals, 106 steals and 90 assists) was selected as the league’s player of the year. She earned a spot on the All-Area team, along with Elissa Arnold, Katie Benson, Ashley Taylor and Breana Lawton.

A dangerous defensive and spread-out offensive Crescenta Valley squad reached its zenith Feb. 23. The Falcons erased several years of heartbreak with a convincing 10-5 victory against Riverside Poly at the William J. Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine.

“You look back at the whole journey, and it took a lot of hard work before and during the season to make things happen,” said Danna, whose team finished 32-2 overall, 8-0 in league. “Everything lined up, but the players were the ones who put in the hard work to make it all happen. I’m just happy that we had the best result.

“We had a lot of players who were hungry to win CIF. They all did what they had to do to make it a successful run through the playoffs.”

2 Crescenta Valley boys’ swimming — Crescenta Valley marched to its 21st consecutive Pacific League championship and had aspirations to repeat as CIF Southern Section Division II champion under the direction of coach Jan Sakonju. Blessed with an array of talented athletes, Crescenta Valley’s bid for another CIF title was derailed by favored Los Osos.

While the Falcons didn’t repeat, they still featured a star-studded cast that included Young Tae Seo, who swept the All-Area Boys’ Swimmer of the Year award all four years, and Harrison Thai. Other standouts for the Falcons were Edward Yi and Jacob Ksendzov. Individually, Seo won four league and two CIF titles — setting three new league and two Division II records in the process.

“They have to look at their careers, of course at this moment it’s going to be tough because of the emotion,” Sakonju said after the CIF runner-up finish. “It does not tarnish their legacy at all and their legendary status. Ten years from now people will be talking about the two of them and what happens once they graduate, the legends get even greater, where Harrison and Young Tae are these 6-foot-4 monsters that swam on top of the water.”

Seo won the 200-yard individual medley in 1 minute 47.80 seconds and teamed with Thai, Yi and Ksendzov to capture the 200-medley relay in 1:33.39.

3 Glendale boys’ water polo — The Nitros wasted little time making a name for themselves. Glendale spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division V weekly polls after an upset victory over then top-seeded La Serna in the Los Altos Tournament championship match Sept. 15.

Glendale went on to win its second straight undefeated Pacific League championship and marched to the division championship match against Pasadena Poly in Irvine.

Unfortunately for the Nitros and coach Forest Holbrook, their season closed with a 12-10 defeat. It marked the first time that Glendale (22-6, 8-0 in league) advanced to the title match in its history.

Still, Glendale made plenty of strides by showcasing its mobile athletes that included All-Area honorees Arman Momdzhyan, Martin Chatalyan and David Papazian.

Momdzhyan paced the Nitros with 136 goals and Chatalyan chipped in with 91. Both earned All-CIF Division V accolades.

4 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy swimming — Coming into the season, there appeared to be plenty of upside for the rising Tologs and their improved lineup that included Kirsten Vose, Kate Herrill, Emily Balog and Katie Altmayer. With coach Steve Bergen calling the shots and assembling the lineup, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy captured an outright Mission League title for the second season in a row.

Flintridge Sacred Heart then took seventh in the CIF Southern Section Division I finals after taking 14th the year before. Bergen was named All-Area Girls’ Swimming Coach of the Year.