By Walsh CARVALHO
The Crescenta Valley Falcons (20-9) league-winning season came to an end yesterday in the semi-final round of the CIF Southern Section Division VI championships. The Rio Mesa Spartans (27-4) overcame the Falcons with a final score of 10-6.
The Crescenta Valley Falcons are no stranger to the Spartans who they beat last year in the final game of the 2008 CIF Southern Section Division VI championships.
The Spartans will face Webb (29-3) in the championship game this Saturday. They beat Glendale (20-7) yesterday in overtime 14-18.
The Falcons led by coach Jan Sakonju were disappointed by their loss, but have a lot to be proud of this season. The Spartans, who won the Pacific league championship against Glendale, had to defeat a few formidable opponents last week in order to reach this semi-final match.
The road to the Division VI semi-finals started last Thursday with a win over Oxnard (16-13) with a convincing score of 17-4.
The Falcons defense came alive against the Oxnard Yellow jackets and their offense followed suit. CV’s Alan Dearman led the team with six goals against the Yellow jackets. The Falcons Chris Veseslich, Tanner Kober, Michael Chang and Martin Rivera also had great outings, each scoring twice.
CV seemed to have a solid grasp of the game from the starting whistle and never looked back.
CV was right back in the water last Saturday for the quarterfinal match against the Pasadena Poly Panthers (17-9). The Falcons win against the Panthers advanced them to yesterday’s semifinal round against Rio Mesa.
The game against Poly was a slower match from the get go. The total score at the half was 6-4, with CV having a slight edge over Pasadena.
The edge started to grow during the second half when the Falcons blew the Panthers out of the water by doubling their first half score and CV’s goalie Rane Colvin only allowing Pasadena two more goals, for six total. Colvin had a total of thirty-five blocks throughout the Falcons playoff run.
“These guys are familiar with each other,” said CV coach Sakonju, whose team eliminated Pasadena for a second year in row. The familiarity of the Panthers became apparent with the way CV played.
“We adjusted our defense to take their offense away from them.”
A couple of goals a piece from Veselich, Kober and Matt Peters and the Falcons looked to edge out the Panthers. CV’s Dearman helped solidify the win while putting four points on the board. Dearman, a junior who led the team with 11 goals total during the playoffs, and the Falcons seemed ready to move onto the semi-final round yesterday.
CV is no stranger to this level of play. Last year they beat out Rio Mesa in a clutch win with a score of 10-9. This year they faced each other a round earlier, but with the level of intensity on both sides of the pool you would have thought that they were already playing for the championship.
The Falcons came out scoring first with a Rivera goal with 4:39 left in the first quarter. The Spartans came right back at the Falcons with a couple of first quarter goals by Zack Began and Nick Tomasello.
The Falcons were able to tie up the game 4-4 going into the third quarter. However the Spartans, who “did good all four quarters” according to Falcons coach Sakonju, were able to throw off CV’s offense.
The Spartans goalie Craig Walter had an answer for almost everything that CV was throwing his way. Walter had an impressive 18 blocks against CV.
Rio Mesa was playing like a well-oiled machine in the last quarter with three more goals, including one by Tomasello who had five on the day.
CV looked to get back in it, but “their passing was slightly off, and that then trickled into their shooting,” said Sakonju. “They lost shooting confidence early, and never got it back.”
Two big steals by Rio Mesa’s Trevor Mulvany at the end of the game and Rio Mesa was on their way to a 10-6 victory and a trip to the CIF Southern Section Division VI championships.
Coach Sakonju was in good spirits as he touched the water ceremoniously after the game. As a good coach he comforted his seniors who just played their last game for CV and reminded his younger players that, “we’ll be back here next year.”