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Onyshko Saves His Best Effort to Stop Agoura

October 19, 2000|PAIGE A. LEECH

A great player making an extraordinary play in a big water polo game describes goalie Tom Onyshko of Royal High.

Billed as the best goalie in the region when the season began, Onyshko has not disappointed.

The 6-foot, 170-pound senior resembles a safety net in front of the cage, blocking most every shot that comes his way. And not just in the easy games.

Last week against Agoura, with the Marmonte League lead on the line, Onyshko made 10 saves. None was more dramatic than the stop he made near the end of the third quarter.

Trailing, 6-5, in a see-saw battle, Agoura had an opportunity to tie it on Matt Monaco's four-meter penalty shot.

But Onyshko, the school's single season and career record holder in saves, deftly blocked the attempt.

The magnitude of the block wasn't lost on Coach Steve Snyder.

"I think if [Agoura] had scored then that momentum would have shifted in their favor and they very well could have beaten us," Snyder said.

Royal (17-3), top-ranked in Southern Section Division IV, won, 10-7, and has its 19th league title in 20 years well within reach.


For the record, a team that is 5-10 shouldn't expect to be top-ranked in its division.

Apparently Division III coaches who vote on Southern Section rankings don't agree.

La Canada had lost twice as many games as it had won heading into Wednesday's Rio Hondo League opener against San Marino.

Yet the Spartans have been top-ranked in Division III for all but one week of the season. Last week, La Canada slipped to No. 4 but finds itself back on top in a tie with Upland.

It seems it doesn't matter that a team loses--and loses often--but rather who it loses to.

La Canada, in preparation to defend its Division III title, is playing a much tougher schedule than a year ago when it was 25-3, but winning few games.

All of the losses have come against teams ranked in the top 10 in Divisions I through V.

Perhaps the tough competition is beginning to pay dividends. La Canada posted victories over ranked Division III opponents Whittier and Bell Gardens in the last six days.

With playoffs three weeks away, time will tell if Division III voters have been duped.


Crescenta Valley should get a morale boost today in its nonleague game against Royal from former Falcon Carlos Pelayo, who is expected to attend his first game since a swimming accident in early September.

"Weather permitting," Coach Jan Sakonju explained. "He can't get his halo wet."

Pelayo, 18, 1999 Pacific League most valuable player with 136 goals, broke vertebrae when his head hit the ocean floor. He had spinal surgery three days later.

The Falcons' first-year junior varsity coach has made extraordinary strides in his rehabilitation and is wearing a device called a halo to keep his neck and spinal cord in line.


Glendale's ultimate goal for the season has never been a secret. Listed first among their five goals: "Beat CV."

Considering the Dynamiters lost to the Falcons, 23-8, in the Pacific League championship game last year, finished 8-14 and watched Crescenta Valley advance to the Division III final, a Glendale upset seemed a bit far-fetched.

Until the teams played last week.

For 3 1/2 quarters, Glendale dominated the Falcons and led, 6-4, early in the final quarter.

"They were very well-prepared and kept us out of sync for about three quarters," Sakonju said. "Their defense forced us to make mistakes."

Coach Pat Lancaster and the Dynamiters (10-4) did their homework, poring over videotapes of three Falcon games from earlier in the season.

"We've been watching them and watching them," Lancaster said.

But the bow broke for Glendale in the final minutes when the Dynamiters, without a deep bench, tired and wilted. Crescenta Valley scored four times in the final 3:27 to win, 9-7.

Glendale still is focused on beating its cross-town rival.

"That's all we're talking about," Lancaster said.

If all goes as Lancaster plans, Glendale should finish second in league play and meet up again with Crescenta Valley in the league tournament championship Nov. 2.

"This could backfire on us and we could get ambushed at the league tournament and not even get to play them," Lancaster said.


The Top 5

Rankings of water polo teams from the region


Rk School Rec. 1 Harvard-Westlake (Mission) 13-2 2 Royal (Marmonte) 17-3 3 Crescenta Valley (Pacific) 16-3 4 Ventura (Channel) 11-3 5 Agoura (Marmonte) 13-6


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