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TEXT, PHOTO BY DAN ALBANO, OCVARSITY.COM
Santa Margarita's girls water polo team snapped a two-season losing streak against Mater Dei by posting a 12-11 victory in sudden-death overtime in the Trinity League Wednesday night.

Wan, Santa Margarita pull out victory in OT

OCVARSITY.COM

SANTA ANA – Haley Wan knew her teammates were depending on her as Santa Margarita's girls water polo showdown against Mater Dei moved to sudden-death overtime Wednesday night.

She didn't let them down.

The junior scored from 9 meters on Santa Margarita's first possession of sudden death to lift the No. 4 Eagles past host No. 7 Mater Dei, 12-11, in a Trinity League game.

Mater Dei's Mackenzie Barr won the sprint to open sudden death but the Eagles forced a turnover. Seconds later, Wan was open in the middle of the pool. After one stroke, she scored on a shot into the upper corner that bounced downward off the cross-bar and into the cage with 2:19 left.

Wan finished with seven goals as the Eagles (15-3, 3-0) clinched at least a share of the league crown and snapped a two-season losing streak against the defending league champion Monarchs (9-7, 1-1).

"It had been a long game and I think everybody was depending on me," Wan said. "It feels so good (to help my team). We've been working so hard this season. I'm so glad we could pull through."

Santa Margarita overcame foul trouble to center Emily Loughlin, who picked up her second ejection early in the second period and fouled out late in the second, three-minute overtime.

The Eagles also rallied from a 7-4 deficit late in the third period.

Wan said the Eagles' improved chemistry made overcoming the adversity possible.

"I think we have a lot more respect for each other and trust in each other this year," Wan said. "Last year, we would kind of not show up to practices and we didn't come together as a team. We were all thinking about ourselves and this year, it's more more about the team aspect."

Santa Margarita trailed, 7-5, going into the fourth period. The Eagles responded with four goals in the final seven minutes.

Loughlin gave the Eagles their first lead in the second half at 9-8 with a power-play strike with 55 seconds left. Mater Dei's Sydney Blubaugh scored a power-play goal with 32 seconds left to force overtime but Santa Margarita coach Kevin Ricks was pleased with the resolve his team showed against a rival on the road.

"No. 1, (Mater Dei) is an outstanding program in the sport of water polo," Ricks said. "The other part of it is we know that ... for any Santa Margarita team to come to Mater Dei to play a game is a challenge. ... I thought the girls rose to the occasion."

Loughlin and Kelli Baumgardner each finished with two goals for Santa Margarita while goalie Nikki Doumas added 10 saves. Morgan Martinez and Kacey Avalos each added one.

Loughlin, a senior headed to Cal, didn't play most of the second period.

"Without Emily, we had to work harder and look out for each other more," Wan said.

Wan also scored the first two goals of the first three-minute overtime, both from 7 meters. The strikes lifted Santa Margarita to an 11-9 lead but Mater Dei — ranked No. 1 in Division 2 — tied the score on a backhanded shot by Barr from center and power-play strike by Blubaugh.

Wan racked up the goals despite guarding Barr on defense.

"Haley is a tremendous athlete," Ricks said. "We've got to lean on her, and it paid off. She works very hard, and put a lot of time in training with the U.S. youth team, and it showed."

Barr finished with four goals while Blubaugh added three before fouling out.

"We had many opportunities," Mater Dei coach Chris Segesman said. "Haley Wan was on fire tonight. ... Credit to Santa Margarita. When we were up by three, they kept their composure and came back."

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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