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Corona del Mar rallies past Los Alamitos to reach semifinals
NEWPORT BEACH – A cohesive Corona del Mar girls water polo team showed its capabilities Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Irvine Southern California Championships.
And it didn't look like a good development for the rest of Division 1.
The Sea Kings overcame a heavy dose of adversity in the first half against Los Alamitos to deliver a sterling second half and an eventual 10-8 triumph at Corona del Mar.
"They were unstoppable in the third and fourth (periods)," Los Alamitos coach Dave Carlson said. "That's by far our best game. ... They (Corona del Mar) were all clicking, and they were all on the same page. There's no weak link."
Fourth-seeded Corona del Mar trailed hot-shooting, fifth-seeded Los Alamitos, 5-2, late in the first half and 5-3 at intermission.
The Sea Kings had one first-half counterattack goal disallowed because a player without the ball swam inside the shooter. They also misfired in the first half on an open net after a steal in the backcourt.
But Corona del Mar (19-3) kept its cool and stayed united in the second half. The Sea Kings answered a 4-0 run by Los Alamitos (19-5) in the first half by scoring the first four goals of the second half to take control and advance to Saturday's 10 a.m. semifinals against No. 1 Foothill (21-2) at Woollett Aquatics Center.
In the third-period surge, Corona del Mar's Ioanna Haralabidis scored on a post-up near 2 meters. Freshman Maddie Musselman netted the tying and go-ahead strikes on a perimeter goal and rollout from near center. And Genevieve Weed scored from center after a quick entry pass by Ally McCormick.
Corona del Mar also played with increased intensity on defense, including strong 2-meter defense by Cassidy Papa.
"We're so much more cohesive now and I think that's why we had such a good game," McCormick said. "I think we had five girls score all our goals. I definitely think we're well-rounded.
"We're not just going to give up. We've been working really hard. This was an important game. We didn't want to let it slip."
Los Alamitos' Stephanie Mutafyan scored from 8 meters with 36 seconds left in the third to cut Corona del Mar's lead to 7-6 but McCormick scored on a counterattack with 2:58 left in the fourth after a save by Erica Weed to give the Sea Kings the breathing room they needed.
"The girls fought hard," Corona del Mar coach Sam Bailey said of his squad. "The girls responded well defensively and fortunately, our offense was right there with it."
McCormick and Haralabidis each finished with three goals for Corona del Mar. Mutafyan netted three for Los Alamitos.
"If Corona del Mar brings its A-game, you're really going to have to play well to beat them," Carlson said.
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