Though the Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo team came up short of winning the CIF Southern Section Division V championship for a second straight season, the Falcons still commanded plenty of attention when it came to the opponents trying to contain them.
Backed by a strong cast of players who excelled on both ends of the pool, Crescenta Valley captured the Pacific League championship for a fifth straight season. It propelled them to a run to the semifinals for the fourth season in a row.
For their collective performances, six Crescenta Valley players were bestowed with All-CIF Southern Section recognition after the Falcons finished 24-7, 8-0 in league. The CIF Southern Section office unveiled the first teams for all seven divisions Monday.
Elissa Arnold and Ashley Taylor were named to the first team. Audrey Taylor earned a spot on the second team. Lynley Fernandez, Ani Aghakanian and Natalie Krebsbach were selected to the third team.
"I think our players got what they deserved," Crescenta Valley second-year Coach Brent Danna said. "I think the division gave our players plenty of respect, and we had another good season."
Arnold, a senior hole/set, often set the tone for the Falcons. The University of Michigan-bound Arnold paced the Falcons with a team-leading 92 goals and was named the league's player of the year.
Ashley Taylor, a senior, flourished as a utility player and complimented Arnold well. Taylor collected 81 goals.
"Elissa was one of the top players who I have ever coached," Danna said. "She brought her work ethic to every practice and every game and we will have a gigantic hole to fill with her moving on to Michigan.
"Ashley gave us plenty of great shooting from the outside and was one of our top defenders. She just went out there and did a lot of things well."
Audrey Taylor, a sophomore driver, also provided depth and often helped balance the Falcons' scoring attack. Taylor finished with 87 goals.
"Audrey was probably our strongest shooter from the outside," Danna said. "She was very crafty on defense and she always knew how to anticipate a counter-attack."
Fernandez, Aghakhanian and Krebsbach also provided the Falcons with depth and versatility. Fernandez, a senior utility, collected 40 goals and Aghakanian, a junior utility, added 46 goals. Krebsbach chipped in with 20 goals.
"Lynley's work ethic was second to none," Danna said. "She knew how to counter-attack and come up with a turnover.
"Ani provided leadership and was one of our fastest swimmers. Natalie blocked a lot of shots and was very opportunistic with her scoring chances."