Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo

Crescenta Valley High'ss Natalie Krebsbach takes a shot on goal attempt past a Downey defender during a CIF Southern Section Division V first-round match at Burbank High on Wednesday. (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer) (February 19, 2014)

BURBANK — Crescenta Valley High’s girls’ water polo team began defense of its CIF Southern Section Division V championship with a confident attitude — and with good reason.

Downey, the Falcons’ first-round opponent, was the third-place team from the San Gabriel Valley League, and had to win a wild-card match on Tuesday just to play on Wednesday.

The Falcons knew Downey would not have offer much of a challenge.

They were right.

PHOTOS: CV vs. Downey girls' water polo teams compete in CIF first-round match

Crescenta Valley scored five unanswered goals in a four-minute span of the first quarter and cruised to a 13-3 victory at Burbank High.

“It was a solid win,” Falcon Coach Brent Danna said. “The girls are fully aware that it’s win or go home.”

The Falcons (23-6), the division’s No. 3 seed, will next play at Temescal Canyon of Lake Elsinore in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

They expect a tougher match in the round of eight, but they also said they’re ready to defend their title.

“We know how to [win the title],” Falcons senior Elissa Arnold said. “We just need to finish it.”

Arnold led the Falcons to the easy victory.

She scored a match-high four goals, all in the first three quarters, before the captain and the rest of the starters rested for all of the fourth quarter.

Audrey Taylor, Ani Aghakhanian and Ashley Taylor had two goals apiece for the Falcons through the first three quarters, as Crescenta Valley entered the final quarter with a 12-1 lead.

The Falcons took the lead thanks to their unrelenting defense and quick strikes on offense. Crescenta Valley forced 14 turnovers in the first three quarters, with Downey taking just six shots during that span. The Falcons turned most of those turnovers into scores, as they took 24 shots in the first 21 minutes and committed just five turnovers.

An ejection of a Falcon led to Downey’s first goal, as Savannah Zubiate scored with 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter. But Downey didn’t score again until Lishyeri Curier scored five minutes into the fourth quarter, as the Falcons held their foe scoreless for more than 19 minutes.

“[The key] was being confident and making sure we executed,” Taylor said. “We came out intense.”

Rachel Ward added the Falcons’ final goal in the fourth quarter.