Mater Dei's press defense paved the way for a 6-3 victory against Newport Harbor in a CIF Division 1 first-round match Wednesday night.

Mater Dei has successful start to postseason


Mater Dei’s season-long aim to have a strong postseason found its target Wednesday against one of Orange County’s traditional girls water polo powers.

The fifth-ranked Monarchs used a unified defensive effort to dispatch visiting No. 9 Newport Harbor, 6-3, in a rainy CIF-SS Division 1 first-round playoff match.

Mater Dei (21-7) entered the winter winless all-time against the Sailors (13-16), but the Monarchs notched their second victory of the year against the five-time Division 1 champions. The Monarchs will play host to two-time defending champion and top-seeded Laguna Beach in the quarterfinals Saturday.

“We have been working at making a run at CIF all year, and this is a good start,” said Mater Dei sophomore center Grace Thawley, who scored twice.

Thawley anchored a press defense that pitched a first-half shutout by collecting seven steals and one of the Monarchs’ five field blocks.

Mater Dei’s defense also received three steals from defender Kayla Constandse and nine saves from goalie Marley Presiado, who dueled with Newport Harbor keeper Maddy Kanzler (nine saves, including three against the power play).

Mater Dei led, 5-0, at halftime thanks in large part to field-blocks by Hannah Constandse and Skyler Pyle against Newport Harbor’s power play. Nicole Kresich and Marylynn Cuozzo added field blocks in the second half.

The Monarchs’ defense also sparked three first-half counterattack goals.

“That’s probably the best defense we’ve played all year,” Mater Dei coach Chris Segesman said. “Lot of energy, good communication. We’re going to need that playing Laguna Beach.”

Newport Harbor sophomore Jessica Lynch scored twice, including the Sailors’ lone natural goal. Newport Harbor lost Claire Tafoya (cut) and sharp-shooter Sammie Garcia (fouls) en route to a 2-for-5 effort on the power play. Mater Dei went 3 for 9 with the extra attacker.

“They just press really hard,” Newport Harbor coach Brian Melstrom said of Mater Dei. “We have to learn from this and get better.”

Also in Division 1:

Laguna Beach 20, Irvine 3: Bella Baldridge had three goals, three assists and two steals to help pace the Breakers. Natalie Selin added four assits.

Foothill 10, Santa Margarita 3: Kenzie Snyder made 14 saves and Lana Gorlinski scored four goals to lead the host Knights (22-6), who will be at home against Dos Pueblos of Goleta on Saturday.

Dos Pueblos 15, Beckman 5: Ryann Neushul scored six goals to lead the host Chargers.

Corona del Mar 13, Villa Park 4: Bridgett Storm scored three goals to pace the host Sea Kings (20-7), who will play San Marcos as part of a doubleheader at Santa Barbara on Saturday.

San Marcos 15, Costa Mesa 1: Arija Walsh scored six goals to lead the Royals.

Santa Barbara 9, Los Alamitos 4: Sophomore Joie Ruiz made 14 saves at Corona del Mar to help pace the Dons. Lauren Dvonch scored twice for Los Alamitos, which trailed, 6-1, at halftime.

Orange Lutheran 25, Saddleback 4: Sisters Alyse and Kelsey Tyler combined for nine goals and seven steals at Santiago Canyon College to lead the Lancers, who play at Santa Barbara in the quarterfinals Saturday.

In Division 3:

Troy 16, Alemany 6: Shelby Maldonado, Ava Mattis, Megan O’Malley and Claire Schade each scored three goals to lead the Warriors (24-6).

La Serna 10, La Habra 7: Maddi Garcia made 15 saves, including one against a penalty shot, but the Highlanders fell at Whittier College.

In Division 5:

South Pasadena 7, Esperanza 4: Junior Sedona Sinclair made 10 saves for the host Aztecs, who trailed, 6-3, going into the fourth.

La Canada 8, Brea Olinda 4: Meghan Lopez made nine saves for the visiting Wildcats (14-14), who finished with best record since 2008.

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