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Newport Harbor knocks off No. 1 CdM in Irvine final
IRVINE - Newport Harbor's girls water polo team accepted that its schedule at the Irvine Southern California Championships on Saturday afternoon might cause it to miss some activities from a Winter Formal dance Saturday night.
The players added one condition to their approach.
"Our motto was, if we're going to be late, we might as well be champions and be late," Newport Harbor attacker Presley Pender said.
No. 2 Newport Harbor could have danced like champions because its knocked off Back Bay rival and top-ranked Corona del Mar, 6-5, in the final at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center.
Goalie Cleo Harrington grabbed a lob shot with one hand in the final seconds to secure the victory, Newport Harbor's first against Corona del Mar (23-2) in four tries. After a brief celebration, Newport Harbor's players dashed to the locker room before departing.
"We just wanted to get out of here with a win," Newport Harbor's Maddy McLaren said. "We thought it was really important to get our most important wins in the end of the season because that shows (how) you're going into CIF."
Newport Harbor (21-4) opened a 6-3 lead with 4:04 left in the fourth on a power-play strike by attacker Carly Christian, who finished with a match-high three goals. The Sailors then held off a late surge by the Sea Kings after doing much of the heavy-lifting in the third period.
McLaren turned in a MVP-worthy performance in third period alone. After assisting on Elissia Schillng's sensational, go-ahead backhanded-shot, McLaren scored from center to extend the Sailors' lead to 5-3 with 2:52 left.
But the UCLA-bound senior made her biggest impact on defense in the final three minutes of the frame. McLaren forced a turnover for ball-under on a power-play, field-blocked a shot from 2 meters and wisely blocked out an offensive player on a rebound in front of Newport Harbor's goal.
In the fourth, Newport Harbor defender Avery Peterson field blocked a shot and the scrappy Christian knocked down an entry pass to 2 meters and made a steal against a power-play.
Newport Harbor shut out Corona del mar for the final 5:17 of the third and the first 5:22 of the fourth.
"I thought we did really good shutting down their 2-meter players, which is where they've been scoring most of their goals," McLaren said.
Newport Harbor blocked five shots in the field – two apiece by McLaren and Peterson – while Harrington made nine saves. McLaren, Peterson and Christian were selected all-tournament.
Corona del Mar's Alex Musselman, selected the outstanding goalie for the tournament, recorded 12 saves.
Newport Harbor's defense also shined in a 7-4 victory against Laguna Beach in the semifinals. Peterson had four steals while Harrington blocked a first-period penalty shot by potent scorer, Yoshi Andersen.
"I was very pleased with our defense against Laguna and CdM - the girls really stepped up," Newport Harbor coach Bill Barnett said.
Corona del Mar coach Sam Bailey knew it was going to be difficult for the Sea Kings to go 4-0 against their rival.
"It's hard to go 3-0 against a team like that," Bailey said. "Any team will say it's just a matter of time (that the steak ends). No one is perfect."
In the third-place match:
Laguna Beach 6, Foothill 5: Andersen scored twice and Melena Masson recorded two field-blocks to pace the Breakers (20-6). Foothill (21-5) played without Jessie Porter (arm).
In the fifth-place match:
Los Alamitos 10, Santa Barbara 6: Rachel Fattal, selected the tournament outstanding field player, had three goals to help the Griffins improve to 2-1 against the Dons.
In the seventh-place match:
Edison 11, Dos Pueblos of Goleta 9: All-tournament pick Alys Williams scored six goals and goalie Sydni Estrella made 11 saves to help the Chargers defeat Dos Pueblos for the first time. Attacker Abby Oshiro added three goals and three assists.