Newport Harbor's Christina O'Beck looks to pass against Corona del Mar's Morgan Stewart.
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CdM follows Musselman's lead


NEWPORT BEACH – On paper, Corona del Mar's girls water polo team will improve Jan. 1 when Greek transfers Ioanna and Stephania Haralabidis become eligible.

But Corona del Mar's pre-transfer edition is proving to be special, too.

The top-seeded Sea Kings improved to 3-0 without their transfers by sprinting past No. 3 Newport Harbor, 8-6, in a nonleague match Friday at Corona del Mar.

There were step-up performances all over the pool for Corona del Mar (3-0), which also has defeated Division 1 contenders Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos of Goleta.

Freshman Maddie Musselman led the way with a match-high five steals, including one late in the third that turned the tide in the duel against the reigning CIF Division 1 champion Sailors (3-2).

OCVarsity Hot Shots: Friday's soccer, water polo, wrestling

First-year starting goalie Erica Weed delivered a season-high 10 saves, and just as important was her arm strength on outlet passes that fed Corona del Mar's vaunted counterattack.

Weed's twin sister, Genevieve, served as the primary 2-meter guard but still found the energy to score two of the first three goals of the fourth period and assist the other.

Musselman and the Weeds blended with returning standouts Cassidy Papa and Ally McCormick, who combined for five goals.

"I think it's just building our confidence even more," Papa said of the Sea Kings' start. "Everybody was kind of, 'Oh, the Greeks.' Honestly, with or without them, we're going to come out full firing. ... When we do get them (the Haralabidis sisters), it's just going to be an extra advantage."

Corona del Mar also is building its depth if two of its starters from Friday presumably become reserves once the Haralabidis sisters become eligible.

Corona del Mar had some extra help Friday. Papa played her first match since returning from the FINA world youth championships in Perth, Australia.

The Stanford-bound senior scored the go-ahead goal with 21 seconds left in the third but the chance started with Musselman. The active and quick attacker stole the ball and fed Papa for a counterattack goal that gave Corona del Mar a 5-4 lead going into the fourth.

Corona del Mar scored the next three goals to open an 8-4 lead near the middle of the fourth.

"That was a huge spark," Papa said of Musselman's steal. "Maddie is just that fire that you can always count on to just be everywhere."

Musselman also drew a penalty, added two assists and guarded Newport Harbor senior Carly Christian.

Christina O'Beck scored twice off the bench to lead Newport Harbor in scoring.

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