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The Baltimore Sun

Crescenta Valley High boys' water polo nearly shuts out El Rancho

PASADENA — About the only question that lingered throughout most of Wednesday afternoon’s CIF Southern Section Division V first-round playoff match between Crescenta Valley High and El Rancho was whether the visiting Dons would score.

Then, with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, El Rancho netted its first goal of what was a near whitewash by the third-ranked Falcons, who rolled to a 13-4 victory at Pasadena City College.

The wins catapults Pacific League runner-up Crescenta Valley (16-9) into Saturday’s divisional quarterfinals, where the Falcons will face defending divisional champion and current sixth-ranked Pasadena Poly (21-5) in Pasadena at 10:30 a.m.

Prep League champion Poly earned advancement by winning its fifth straight postseason match, 15-7, over Rowland on Wednesday.

“We have total respect for Poly. They have one of the best players in the division [Spencer Rogers] and they’re disciplined,” Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju said. “It seems like every year our postseason fates are intertwined.”

The Falcons and Panthers split the season series, with Poly defeating Crescenta Valley, 8-5, on Sept. 17 before Crescenta Valley took down a Rogers-less Panthers squad, 9-1, on Oct. 12.

Thoughts quickly drifted toward Poly after the Falcons led at the half, 9-0, over El Rancho and eventually netted the first 11 goals of the contest.

With 38.49 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Crescenta Valley’s Alexander Trimis fouled El Rancho’s Parlox Rodriguez, leading to a five-meter penalty.

While Falcons goalie George Vine IV (six saves) initially stuffed Rodriguez, the Dons attacker was given a second five-meter try when Trimis charged after Rodriguez during the shot.

With a second chance, Rodriguez buried his five-meter try into the lower-left corner of the net for El Rancho’s first goal as the Dons trailed, 11-1, with 34.7 seconds remaining.

“The guys messed with me about that goal. We all wanted the shutout,” Vine IV said. “They questioned why I could block the first shot, but couldn’t block the second shot. It was all in good fun.”

Nate Fernandez led the Falcons offensively Wednesday, scoring a game-high four goals, while adding two steals and one assist.

Fernandez assisted Daniel Park (two goals, three assists and two steals) on a six-on-five goal at the 1:41 mark in the first quarter as Crescenta Valley raced out to a 4-0 advantage.

Fernandez then scored on the Falcons’ next possession when he was assisted by Trevor Goddard (two goals, one steal and one assist). Eventually, the Falcons closed out the first quarter with a 6-0 advantage after Goddard scored thanks to a long-range assist from Vine IV with 3.87 seconds remaining.

While the Falcons offense eased up in the second quarter, scoring three goals in leading, 9-0, the defense never relented in forcing 17 turnovers, led by three steals from Ryan Moguel.

“We wanted to control the game from the defense and give our bench a chance to get into the game,” Moguel said. “We’re not just trying to win this game, but get ready for the next round.”

Sakonju pulled his starters before the fourth quarter, one in which the Dons won, 3-2.

“We’re really looking forward to play Poly. We know a few guys over there,” Vine IV said. “They’re good, but so are we and we have a chance to prove it.”

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