PASADENA — For most of Tuesday's nonleague match against Walnut High at Pasadena City College, the members of the Crescenta Valley boys' water polo team looked as if their minds were elsewhere.
Their normally dependable scoring was certainly missing for long stretches, and without standout senior hole/set Alan Dearman in the game, no one seemed eager to step in and take his place as the main weapon on offense.
Fortunately for the Falcons, who entered the match ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division V, their defense never faltered and goalkeeper Rane Colvin had 12 saves to keep the fifth-ranked Mustangs at bay until Crescenta Valley was able to figure things out for a 9-6 win.
"We could figure stuff out and work on different plays and we don't have to really worry about getting scored on," said Jack Snyder, whose four goals, along with Louis Wojciechowski's four, led the Falcons. "Rane's there for a little reassurance and he saved us a few times."
Wojciechowski scored three times in the second half to help the Falcons (18-4) break away, opening the third quarter with a shot that deflected into the goal off Mustangs goalkeeper Alex Arias to make it 6-4 and then closing scoring at the 2:36 mark of the fourth on a long pass from Colvin on the counter-attack.
At the 3:48 mark of the third quarter, Walnut's Danny Overstreet scored off an assist from Doug Marriott to make the score, 6-5, the closest it had been since Crescenta Valley led, 5-4, at the end of the first half.
Wojciechowski answered with an easy goal from just a few feet out less than two minutes later, when Walnut goalkeeper Alex Arias gambled on a steal attempt and left the cage open. Snyder scored on an assist from Nick Rapose 23 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 8-5.
"I don't know if our guys rose to the challenge," said Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju, who declined to specify why Dearman was inactive. "We ended up winning, but we certainly weren't playing the same way, and I think they were all looking for someone to step into that scoring role. That person, for the most part, was Jack Snyder, but other guys were supposed to also try to take that role and didn't."
For whatever, reason, the Falcons seemed out of sorts in the first half, falling behind, 2-1, at the 4:22 mark of the first quarter when a pass back to Colvin following a steal was easily intercepted by Walnut and converted into a goal.
Leading, 4-2, to begin the second quarter, Crescenta Valley didn't get its first shot attempt off until nearly three minutes had gone by and scored only once — on a goal by Rapose — in the quarter, which ended with a man- advantage goal for Walnut on which the Falcons were seemingly caught unaware that play had resumed after a brief reset.
"Even at school in the classroom, the kids were really sluggish today and I think our guys were that way in the pool," Sakonju said. "That's not the first time we've had that problem where our worst enemy is ourselves. We had counter-attacks that people curved out rather than going to the goal and taking the shot, they were all looking to make assists to nobody who wanted to shoot it.
"It was definitely out of sync. We'll have to work it out tomorrow and definitely get things back to normal by [today's match with Arcadia]."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun