Danae Fielder wanted to play soccer, not politics--but she wound up excelling in both.
For three years, Fielder and many of the other girls in her classes at Crescenta Valley High yearned to represent their school in the sport on which they were weaned.
Youth soccer flourishes in the Glendale area, but La Canada was the only public high school that offered girls the opportunity to reach--and score--their goals on the playing field.
Fielder and friends, however, went about changing that.
They distributed information sheets at junior high schools to gauge interest. They prodded administrators and rallied their parents for support.
The school, which formed a boys' volleyball team last year, responded by adding girls' soccer to its athletic program this season.
"This is what the community has grown up on," Fielder said. "And you have to fit the needs of the community."
Ten games into the Falcons' season, girls' soccer at Crescenta Valley looks like a perfect fit. The Falcons, coached by brothers Judd and Matt Bogust, entered Wednesday's game against San Dimas with a 10-0 record.
"In just talking to the parents and watching some of the girls, I knew they had some skills," said Judd, formerly a reserve goalkeeper for the Los Angeles Lazers. "But I didn't think it was going to be as one-sided as it's been.
"These girls have tons of talent. And over the last nine games, they've been playing girls' soccer like they invented it."
Actually, Crescenta Valley is succeeding with a high-speed transition game borrowed from Paul Westhead, the former basketball coach at Loyola Marymount now with the Denver Nuggets.
Judd, 22, played soccer at Loyola Marymount and seemingly gives his players the green light to shoot as soon as they catch sight of the goal. "I believe in the run-and-gun," Judd said. "In soccer, even more so than basketball, mistakes count for points."
The Falcons' machine-gun offense had outscored opponents, 45-7, and had outshot them, 190-60. Only once had Crescenta Valley failed to score the first goal in a match.
Fielder, a senior wing who has nine goals and seven assists, credits the Bogusts for molding the Falcons into a force.
"Their coaching style is totally different than anyone I have ever played under because they actually coach," Fielder said. "They've taught us from the basics."
The hiring last October of the Bogusts, who grew up in La Crescenta and attended Loyola High, was the final phase of the evolution of the girls' soccer program from concept to reality.
Principal Ken Biermann said the administration was impressed with the organized effort and commitment from students and parents, who pledged to financially support the program for two years through fund-raisers.
"So many times, you have outside interest groups that just come in and demand something," Biermann said. "In this case, everybody was willing to see what they could do to get it off the ground."
Crescenta Valley, which is playing its 19-match schedule as an independent, opened its season with a 7-1 victory over Notre Dame Academy. The Falcons also have knocked off La Canada and appear to be a lock for the playoffs.
Fielder is just one of several players who have contributed to the team's impressive start.
Nancy Allen, a junior center forward, has a team-high 12 goals and four assists. Freshman wing Suzanne Vishanoff has 11 goals and seven assists and junior halfback Jodi Larson has five goals and five assists. Sophomore Jennifer Beall, whose brother, David, was an All-Southern Section player for St. Francis last season, is the offensive catalyst--the playmaker who makes the offense go.
Juniors Cara Campbell and Sarah MacDougall and sophomore Jennifer Price are the top three defenders for a team that also includes talented junior goalkeeper Kimberly Carroll.
"We've had broken ankles, sprained ankles, torn ligaments, broken noses and concussions, but people are still coming back," Matt Bogust said.
Next season, Crescenta Valley will compete in the Pacific League with Arcadia, Muir and Pasadena--all of which currently compete in the Foothill League in girls' soccer.
But first, Judd Bogust envisions the Falcons finishing this season with a flourish.
"At the beginning, everyone was just excited to see the program started," he said. "But they've never seen these girls click like they are right now.
"I don't foresee us losing any games. I know that every team we play is out to get us, but these girls are tough and they don't give up."