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Daily Pilot High School Athlete Of The Week:

Baldoniā€™s passion, defense inspire CdM

WATER POLO: Junior goalie stepped up in big situations to help Sea Kings win title at Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

January 19, 2008|By Matt Szabo

Corona del Mar High junior Kate Baldoni usually prefers to let her play do the talking.

In fact, communicating more with her teammates is one of the things Coach Aaron Chaney is working on with the goalie for the CdM girls’ water polo team.

But there Baldoni was on Jan. 12, right before the fourth quarter in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions title game against Back Bay rival Newport Harbor. CdM was rallying, and Baldoni and a few teammates were urging the Sea Kings to keep going.

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“Right before the fourth quarter of that Newport game when we were lining up, she was out [of the water] to almost her stomach,” Chaney said. “She was looking to her right and her left to tell the girls, ‘Come on! We’re going to do this!’ She was just getting people going in that game.”

CdM won the tournament after topping the Sailors in overtime, 6-5, holding Newport Harbor scoreless for the final 21-plus minutes of the contest. Baldoni was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

The player who her teammates and coach call by her initials, “KB,” wasn’t toying around. She helped lead a scrappy defensive effort for the team now ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division I coaches’ poll.

In the four TOC games, Corona del Mar held its opponents to three second-half goals. It allowed the Sea Kings to come back from a three-goal halftime deficit in both the quarterfinal and final of the tournament.

“We wanted it,” said Baldoni, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week. “I felt like the second half was our game. In the Laguna Beach game and the Newport game, we were down and we came out harder. I guess it was just our desire to win. It was a team effort.”

Baldoni has been steady in goal for CdM (12-5) this season, starting every game while making 154 saves, just over nine per game. But even when things weren’t necessarily going the Sea Kings’ way — they were just 5-5 after finishing fourth in the Holiday Cup — Baldoni is one player who wouldn’t stay down.

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