Sailors send message

Newport Harbor uses strong defense to easily beat Los Al, putting itself in position to win Sunset League championship.

October 20, 2010|By Matt Szabo,
(Scott Smeltzer…)

NEWPORT BEACH — The atmosphere was electric at the Sunset League water polo showcase Wednesday night at Newport Harbor High.

The best game, Newport Harbor against Los Alamitos, was saved for last. A line formed at the pool gate as the 7:10 p.m. start time approached, turning the crowd standing-room only.

By the end of the game, even some of those who had seats rose up to applaud the Sailors.

Newport Harbor came out strong and didn't let up, and now the team's grasp on the league title appears to be just as strong. The Sailors turned what was expected to be another nail-biter into a 14-5 blowout win.

The Sailors (16-2, 3-0 in league) avenged a 10-9 overtime loss to the Griffins in the final of the S&R Sport Cup 11 days earlier. More importantly, they dealt Los Al (14-5, 2-1) its first league loss and put themselves in the driver's seat to win league with victories over Edison and Marina the next two weeks.


"It was a great defensive effort by everybody, it wasn't just individuals," Newport Harbor senior utility player Andrew Duhoux said. "I was just really impressed. We rallied. After last Wednesday, with our Huntington Beach game [a narrow 4-3 win], we've really been rallying back against El Toro and Laguna Beach too. We kind of wanted to make a little statement here. I'm pretty sure we did that."

All of this was well and good for the Sailors, but few people in the stands could have thought the margin would be so large. Then again, that's the way Newport Harbor has been playing defense lately.

Senior goalie Chris Whitelegge was a wall and made 17 saves. Duhoux and sophomore Dan Stevens put the clamps on the Griffins' top two goal-scorers, senior center Joe Ferretti and sophomore Chandler Jarrels, holding them to a goal apiece.

At one point in the fourth quarter, the Sailors led, 13-2.

"We did a great job keeping our matchups, helping each other out and reacting to the ball really quickly," Newport Harbor Coach Jason Lynch said. "I'm really proud of them for their effort. They played a great game.

"[Whitelegge] just did an outstanding job. That's the anchor of it all. We talked a lot last year after CIF finals, how it wasn't his best performance and coming back strong. He's really rallied, as far his mental toughness and his fortitude, to really want to come back and make a point this year."

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