EL TORO — No matter how hard Chris Whitelegge tries he can't block out the painful memory of last year's loss in the CIF Southern Section Division I boys' water polo game.
But to him it isn't so damaging. No, instead it serves as motivation for this season.
When Saturday came and El Toro (16-2) played host to Newport Harbor (15-2), Whitelegge, the Sailors' goalie, chose to block out the Chargers from his cage.
Whitelegge recorded 14 saves and led a relentless defense that shut down the Chargers for a 6-4 nonleague win.
"I thought about it a lot before the game to get myself motivated," Whitelegge said of last year's 11-9 loss to El Toro in the Division I title game. "I reminded the team. I was pumped.
"What was it like to lose [last year]? It was horrible. But it's motivation for all of us."
While the Sailors defense was impressive — holding El Toro to just one goal in the second half — the Tars remained level-headed after their performance. After all, the Chargers' star center Russell Renteria did not play, as he completed his two-match suspension for game ejections.