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PHOTO BY PETER TRABUCCO; TEXT BY DAN ALBANO, OCVARSITY.COM
Santa Barbara and goalie Maddie Trabucco defeated Newport Harbor, 7-5, in the finals of the Santa Barbara TOC on Saturday.

Newport Harbor falls short in Santa Barbara TOC

OCVARSITY.COM

SANTA BARBARA – Newport Harbor's impressive run at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions girls water polo tournament was derailed by another dazzling act Saturday.

Host Santa Barbara blitzed the Sailors for five goals in the third period en route to a 7-5 victory in the championship match of arguably the toughest tournament of the regular season.

The Dons' third-period highlights included Kelsey O'Brien flipping a shot off the surface of the water and into the net after a back-door drive. Sophie Trabucco bounced a perimeter shot in off the goalie cage for another score.

Santa Barbara also ripped in a shot from center, scored on a counterattack, and powered in a man-advantage chance off a Newport Harbor player.

"Was that all in that quarter?" Dons coach Mark Walsh asked. "Oh, my gosh."

Yes, Santa Barbara's seven-minute stretch was indeed that good. The Dons scored the first three goals of the frame to take a 5-3 lead and led, 7-5, going into the fourth.

Santa Barbara (13-4) needed to be spectacular to cool off sizzling No. 2 Newport Harbor (12-4) and goalie Cleo Harrington.

The Sailors knocked off Corona del Mar and Greek transfers Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis in the quarterfinals and sank Santa Margarita, 7-5, in the semifinals.

Harrington made four of her 12 saves in the fourth but the damage was done in the third.

"I think it was a lot of miscommunication (on defense)," Newport Harbor senior and all-tournament pick Elissia Schilling said.

"I think these (Santa Barbara) girls have been playing with each other since they were 10. (That) always helps because I feel like the communication is there."

Santa Barbara's defense also was stout. The Dons shut out Newport Harbor's 2-meter attack. The Sailors received two power-play goals and a perimeter strike from all-tournament pick Carly Christian and two outside scores from Rachel Whitelegge.

Santa Barbara mixed drop and press defenses in front of goalie Maddie Trabucco, selected tournament MVP.

“For the most part, we played really good team defense,” said O’Brien, an all-tournament pick. “I think that’s how we pulled it off.”

In the semifinals, Santa Barbara scored four goals in another big third period and got a season-high five goals from Betsy Hendrix to sink top-seeded and top-ranked Foothill, 8-7.

Newport Harbor left the tournament upbeat.

   “I feel like we’ve come together as a team very well,” Schilling said. “For Division 1, I think there are five or six teams that could potentially go and win CIF.”

   Saturday seemed to suggest that. Santa Barbara was seeded fifth; Newport Harbor sixth.

In the third-place match:

No. 1 Foothill 9, No. 7 Santa Margarita 5: Ashley Zwirner scored four goals to lead the Knights (14-2).

In the fifth-place match:

No. 3 Corona del Mar 10, No. 8 Laguna Beach 6: Ally McCormick, Maddie Musselman, Cassidy Papa and Morgan Stewart each scored twice for the Sea Kings (11-3). Corona del Mar earlier edged Los Alamitos, 5-4, as the Haralabidis twins combined for five goals.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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