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Cif Southern Section Division I Championship Preview:

Newport one step away

WATER POLO: The top-seeded Sailors can claim their 12th CIF title, and their first since 2000.

November 17, 2007|By Matt Szabo

Northwood is looking for its first-ever CIF title in boys’ water polo, while Newport Harbor seeks its 12th.

But a close game is expected tonight at 7 when the teams face off in the CIF Southern Section Division I championship game at Irvine High.

The top-seeded Sailors (26-3) are trying to win their first CIF championship since 2000.

Newport Harbor has been the top-ranked team in Division I ever since beating El Toro in the South Coast Tournament championship game on Sept. 22. Newport Harbor topped the Chargers again, 9-8, in the Division I semifinals on Wednesday.

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Senior captain Clinton Jorth (68 goals) leads the team in scoring, followed closely by fellow senior Colin McKibbin with 64 goals. But anyone in the water for Newport Harbor can score, as the Tars showed Wednesday when six different players — Jorth, McKibbin, Matt Russell, Brandon Parole, Andy Hayes and David Linden — each found the back of the cage.

“We have very balanced scoring,” Coach Jason Lynch said. “The whole thing we’re trying to promote is that we are a good team. We definitely have balance and play for each other, and that’s nice.”

No. 2-seeded Northwood (16-10) tied Foothill and El Toro for the Sea View League championship, but earned the No. 1 league designation for the playoffs. The Timberwolves also survived a nailbiter in its semifinal, outlasting Los Alamitos, 6-5, on Travis Noll’s goal with 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Noll, a senior who has scored 94 goals this season, and senior teammate Jon Colton (52 goals) lead the Timberwolves’ attack.

The teams have played before this season, in a nonleague game on Oct. 9 that the Sailors won, 8-7, in the fourth overtime on McKibbin’s goal. McKibbin also scored the game-tying goal with a second left in regulation of that contest.

“Northwood’s going to be another good game,” Sailors goalie Myles Christian said. “When we played them last time, it definitely wasn’t our best game. They’re kind of like El Toro, they have two standout players. It should be good.”

With the standout play of Caleb Hamilton, the 2006 CIF Southern Section Division I Player of the Year who is now at Pepperdine, Northwood made it to the Division I title game last year before losing to El Toro. But the Timberwolves have never won a CIF championship in boys’ water polo since the school was founded in 1999.

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