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Newport Harbor loses in first round for first time
The two most storied boys water polo programs in Southern Section history woke the ghosts of past classic matches Wednesday night with roars from the crowd and a sudden-death overtime thriller.
The first-round pairing between Newport Harbor and Long Beach Wilson always seemed like it held more than just a Division 1 playoff opener and the drama overflowed for seven periods.
But unfortunately for the Sailors, their school’s impressive postseason streak came to an end.
Kobe Jackson scored off a long cross pass from Daniel Schmidt with 35 seconds left in sudden-death overtime as 11-time Division 1 champion Long Beach Wilson rallied to stun 12-time champion Newport Harbor, 11-10, at the outdoor pool at Belmont Plaza.
“It didn’t disappoint” Long Beach Wilson coach Jeff Nesmith said of the duel. “What a great win. .. Every time we play it’s just a big game.”
The Bruins (14-14) took their first lead on Jackson’s winner and became the first school to beat Newport Harbor (16-11) in a first-round playoff match, a streak that started with the Sailors’ first postseason appearance in 1962.
They did it by rallying all night. Newport Harbor led, 6-2, after the third period. In the fourth, the Sailors led, 6-3, and later, 7-5, with less than two minutes left.
The Bruins scored twice in the final 1:50 of regulation to tie the score, 7-7, and force overtime. The Sailors then scored the first three goals of the first three-minute overtime, including two by Connor Turnbow-Lindenstadt, but were caught, 10-10, in the second three-minute overtime. Turnbow-Lindenstadt finished with a game-high four goals.
Newport Harbor goalie Joe Ferraro, who had 19 saves, blocked a breakaway at the end of the second three-minute overtime to force sudden-death. Both teams had power-plays in sudden-death before the Bruins converted as play resumed following a man-advantage save by Ferraro.
“What a great first round, right? Finals atmosphere,” Newport Harbor coach Ross Sinclair said.
The old indoor pool at Belmont Plaza, now long torn down, saw plenty of finals, especially ones won Newport Harbor and Long Beach Wilson. The Bruins' faithful roared in the fourth period to chants of "Wilson! Wilson!" as it seemed to sense a comeback was possible.
"Something about coming back, with that energy and the intensity of a comeback feeling, those guys road that hard and they got fired up," Nesmith said.
Newport Harbor finished 4 for 11 on the power-play; Long Beach Wilson 4 for 10.
Long Beach Wilson plays host to top-seeded Mater Dei, a 14-4 winner against Crespi, in the quarterfinals Saturday at 5 p.m. at the outdoor pool at Belmont Plaza. The Bruins beat Mater Dei at the pool last season, 8-7.
Also in Division 1:
Corona del Mar 13, Los Alamitos 4: Brendan Hack scored three goals and Matt Moran made nine saves to lead the host Sea Kings, who play Loyola in the quarterfinals Saturday. Corona del Mar ranks third in all-time Division 1 titles with nine.
Agoura 13, JSerra 8: Max Hartmann scored six goals to lead the host Chargers, who outscored the Lions, 6-3, in the fourth. Agoura plays second-seeded Harvard-Westlake in the quarterfinals.
Orange Lutheran 18, Beckman 7: Ash Molthen had seven goals and three assists to lead the Lancers into Saturday's quarterfinals against Huntington Beach.
In Division 3:
Laguna Beach 18, Chaparral 9: Jakob Colladay scored seven goals to lead the host Breakers (16-13).
Capistrano Valley 15, San Marino 4: Trevor Adams had four goals and two assists to lead the host Cougars (18-11), who won despite San Marino shutting out high-scoring Austin Sechrest.
Aliso Niguel 13, South Pasadena 6: Junior Nick Ure scored seven goals to help pace the Wolverines.
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