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ARMANDO BROWN, FOR THE REGISTER
Santa Margarita's Haley Wan helped the Eagles edge out Mater Dei for the title in the Trinity League.

Water polo recap: Area's depth keeps growing

OCVarsity takes a look at the regular-season highlights and top performances.

OCVARSITY.COM

If Orange County's regular season in girls water polo was any indication, the postseason could be exciting for county teams.

From Division 1 to 7, the county produced many highlights.

A deep and balanced Foothill (23-3) team captured the Holiday Cup in December, the first of three major tournaments for Division 1 teams.

The Knights' early-season success pushed them to No. 1 in the county rankings. They were steady the rest of the way, finishing second to Santa Barbara at the recent Irvine Southern California Championships.

Nikki Stansfield of Foothill was selected the tournament's top field player.

The Corona del Mar-Newport Harbor rivalry, the most intense one in the county, delivered four matches and a 2-2 spilt.

Greek transfers Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis joined Corona del Mar (23-4) and added intensity and high-level play.

Newport Harbor goalie Cleo Harrington emerged as a county player of the year candidate in leading the Sailors (20-6) to the Sunset League title and a runner-up finish at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

In Division 2, Santa Margarita (21-6) and Haley Wan dethroned Mater Dei for the Trinity League title while El Toro (17-8) captured the South Coast for its first league title in seven seasons. All three teams are CIF title contenders.

Troy (21-8) went 10-0 to claim the Freeway League and could earn Division 4's No. 2 seed. Tesoro (17-10) captured its first league title, claiming the Division 4 Sea View League.

Yorba Linda (17-4) won its first league title by dethroning Pacifica in the Division 6 Empire League.

Division 7 contender Ocean View claimed the Nogales tournament title along with the Golden West League. The Seahawks are ranked No. 1 in Division 7.

But the most exciting stretch was Jan. 15-16. On the 15th, Garden Grove’s Amber Labra scored in sudden-death overtime to lead the Argonauts past defending league champion Los Amigos. The next night, Wan scored a winning-goal in sudden-death overtime against Mater Dei.

The playoff pairings are announced Sunday at 11 a.m. The finals in all divisions are Feb. 23 at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine.

The playoff pairings will be announced Sunday at 11a.m. The finals in all divisions are Feb. 23 at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine.

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10 players who helped their teams the most during the regular season:

Mackenzie Barr, Mater Dei

Emily Browning, El Toro, GK

Makenzie Fischer, Laguna Beach

Cleo Harrington, Newport Harbor, GK

Jessica Hermosillo, Rosary, GK

Emily Loughlin, Santa Margarita

Stephanie Mutafyan, Los Alamitos

Allison Skaggs, El Toro

Nikki Stansfield, Foothill

Haley Wan, Santa Margarita

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10 teams that were better than we expected during the regular season:

Dana Hills

Ocean View

Orange Lutheran

Santa Margarita

Savanna

Tesoro

Tustin

University

Woodbridge

Yorba Linda

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10 players who could be postseason MVPs for their teams:

Taylor Best, Yorba Linda

Carly Christian, Newport Harbor

Brianna Daboub, Mater Dei

Kerstin Laye, Sunny Hills

Cana Manzella, Foothill

Cassidy Papa, Corona del Mar

Stephania Haralabidis, Corona del Mar

Brynne McNabb, Ocean View

Kelsey Roland, Foothill, GK

Melissa Thorn, Pacifica, GK

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10 teams ready to make deep runs in the postseason:

Corona del Mar

El Toro

Foothill

Mater Dei

Newport Harbor

Ocean View

Pacifica

Santa Margarita

Troy

Yorba Linda


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