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Mater Dei needs late surge to beat Newport Harbor
High school water polo.
NEWPORT BEACH – Mater Dei's boys water polo team provided another reminder Saturday that it knows how to close out a victory.
The top-ranked Monarchs scored three goals in the final 2:05 of the fourth period to defeat No. 2 Newport Harbor, 7-4, in the finals of the South Coast Tournament at Corona del Mar.
Attacker Matthew Cuozzo snapped a 4-4 tie by skipping in a short shot from the wing with 2:05 left.
Jon Walters then scored twice from center to cap the Monarchs' third consecutive South Coast title and Southern Section-record 59th consecutive triumph.
"These guys have been in a lot of big games," Mater Dei coach Chris Segesman said of his team. "They have a lot of experience, and it showed. ... They're hungry to win."
Goalie McQuin Baron also played a key role for Mater Dei, making four of his 14 saves in the fourth quarter.
Mater Dei's finish provided a signature victory to their 11-0 start to the season. The Monarchs ended 2011 by scoring twice in the final minute to beat El Toro, 8-5, in the Division 1 final.
"We just came together," Jon Walters said. "We knew it was time to put the game away, so we made it happen."
Mater Dei needed its finishing kick to push past a Newport Harbor team (7-1) that led, 2-1, after the first period, and, 3-2, at halftime.
The Monarchs' defense played a starring role in the second half. Mater Dei allowed only one goal, a 2-meter strike from Andrew Silvers that knotted the score at 4 about one minute into the fourth.
Mater Dei received strong 2-meter defense from James Walters, along with a save against the power-play by Baron in the third.
Cuozzo, an emerging senior, added two field blocks in the third.
The Monarchs' defensive performance loomed large as their offense finished 0 for 4 on the power play and struggled to beat goalie Wyatt Muller, who had 10 saves. Newport Harbor's defense also blocked or tipped six shots in the field in the first half.
"It shows the character and the depth of this team," Segesman said of the victory. "Defensively, we played unbelievable."
Newport Harbor coach Robert Lynn was encouraged by his team's performance, which include taking a 2-0 lead on perimeter strikes by Preston Lee and Dan Stevens in the first 1:32 of the opening frame.
"Definitely, keeping it close is better for us," Lynn said. "If you want a chance to win, you have to keep it close. ... You've got to show them that you're serious about it this year and refuse to give in on the defensive end."
In the semifinals, Mater Dei handled Los Alamitos, 14-5, behind four goals (three from center) from Jon Walters. The Monarchs led, 12-1, going into the fourth.
"I was really nervous going into that Los Al game," Segesman said. "But they didn't have an answer for Jon."
In the third-place match:
Los Alamitos 10, Loyola of Los Angeles 8: Luke Weiser made 15 saves to lead the Griffins (5-1) at Corona del Mar. "I was really proud that the kids were able to respond a few hours later from that beating we took (against Mater Dei)," Los Alamitos coach Dave Carlson said.
In the fifth-place match:
Agoura 6, Long Beach Wilson 3: The top-ranked team in Division 2 won twice Saturday to finish strong.
In the seventh-place match:
Corona del Mar 16, Dana Hills 8: Reid Chase, Danny Marshall and Jake Wyatt each scored three goals to pace the Sea Kings. Marko Asic netted five goals for the Dolphins.
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