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Newport Harbor overpowers CdM
NEWPORT BEACH – One key indicator of team chemistry in water polo is production on the man-advantage.
If a team is united, it will put away a healthy percentage of scoring chances with the extra attacker, the theory goes.
Newport Harbor's boys showed their cohesion Saturday night in their Battle of the Bay match at Corona del Mar.
The No. 2 Sailors converted 7 of 9 chances on the power play, including a victory-sealing strike from Ryan Warde with eight seconds left, en route to a 9-7 victory against the No. 4 Sea Kings.
Warde scored his game-high fourth goal after Newport Harbor's Andrew Silvers drew an exclusion with 32 seconds left.
Corona del Mar (13-7) was just coming to even strength as the junior unleashed a shot toward the near side of the goal from 5 meters on the left wing.
It was Warde's third power-play strike.
Newport Harbor goalie Wyatt Muller blocked a power-play chance at the final buzzer but the signature of the Sailors' victory was their man-advantage.
Even the Sailors' defensive-minded coach had to admit to that.
"Yes, that was a good sign of teamwork," Robert Lynn said. "But my thing is we shouldn't have allowed seven or eight goals."
Three others scored on Newport Harbor's power play. Curtis Fink netted two while Preston Lee and Mitch Mendoza each collected one. Fink drew at least four exclusions.
Newport Harbor's power-play display was so effective, it made the Sailors (16-3) look like a worthy challenger for two-time defending Division 1 champion Mater Dei (20-0).
"We want to be a serious challenger," Lynn said. "I want to play Mater Dei. We have to play everybody else to get there."
Corona del Mar seemingly pulled out all the stops. The Sea Kings' drum-line performed before the match. Their rowdy crowd chanted Lynn's name during the action. And Corona del Mar almost erased an 8-4 deficit with less than three minutes to go.
Blake Motal capped a 3-0 run with a goal with 59 seconds left to trim Newport Harbor's lead to 8-7. But in the end, Corona del Mar hurt itself with a 3-for-8 power-play effort.
"The six-on-five wins and loses games," Corona del Mar coach Barry O'Dea said. "But we played well. I'm really happy how we hung tough."