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Santa Margarita girls sink Los Alamitos
GOLETA – Santa Margarita's girls water polo team powered through the quarterfinals this time.
The Eagles used a block in the field by Kelli Baumgardner and another in goal by Nikki Doumas in the final seconds to secure a 10-9 victory against second-seeded Los Alamitos at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions on Friday at Dos Pueblos High.
Attacker Haley Wan snapped a 9-9 tie by taking a short pass from Morgan Martinez and scoring a power-play goal with 3:07 left in the fourth.
The Eagles' defense held from there and helped Santa Margarita avoid the quarterfinal slip it experienced at the Holiday Cup in late December.
"This is the biggest victory we've had so far," Wan said. "This just means harder games (for us) in the future and we have to be ready and come out with just as much intensity."
No. 7 Santa Margarita (13-1) will face No. 2 Newport Harbor in the semifinals today at 12:15 p.m. at Santa Barbara High.
The Sailors handled the Eagles, 11-6, in the quarterfinals at the Holiday Cup on Dec. 28.
"We weren't expecting such a hard game against Newport Harbor," Wan said. "We've really stepped up over the winter break and practiced really hard and came together as team."
The Eagles were united in their final defensive stand. No. 6 Los Alamitos (14-3) called a timeout with 21 seconds and ran an underwater play.
The Griffins drew a foul outside 5 meters but Baumgardner knocked the shot down before it reached the goal and Doumas stopped a second shot after the Griffins got the rebound.
"That was a pretty intense 21 seconds – the girls did a good job," Santa Margarita coach Kevin Ricks said. "I thought the girls did a really nice job today of just playing a full, complete game."
Los Alamitos led, 9-8, with just under four minutes remaining but Santa Margarita's Emily Loughlin knotted the score for the seventh time with a power-play strike with 3:55 left. Wan then scored less than a minute later after Los Alamitos' standout Stephanie Mutafyan fouled out.
Kacey Avalos led five Eagles in scoring with three goals. Ella Weber scored three for Los Alamitos.
In another quarterfinal:
No. 1 Foothill 13, No. 8 Laguna Beach 6: The Knights (13-1) advanced to today's 11:10 a.m. semifinal against host Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara defeated El Toro, 12-6, in the quarterfinals.
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