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McLaren lifts Newport

Junior scores five goals as Sailors again beat rival CdM, this time in TOC quarters. Top-seeded Dos Pueblos is up next today.

January 14, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com

GOLETA — Coach Bill Barnett repeatedly yelled at Presley Pender to shoot the ball.

Pender did not shoot the ball.

Instead she passed to her fellow junior, Maddy McLaren, at the far post. The decision ultimately paid off for the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team, as McLaren blasted in the power-play strike midway through the third quarter against rival Corona del Mar.

"I love passing to Maddy," Pender explained after the game at Dos Pueblos High. "We've been best friends for so long. I just feel so confident passing to her, that things will turn out positively."

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Nobody could argue. If Barnett was in the water, he might have passed it to McLaren too.

The girl with the red hair was on fire Friday night, scoring five goals to lift the Sailors to a 7-4 victory over their Back Bay rivals in a Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions quarterfinal game.

Newport Harbor (12-1) will face top-seeded Dos Pueblos (14-0) in a tournament semifinal at 11:10 a.m. today at Santa Barbara High. With their two wins Friday, the two-time defending CIF Southern Section Division I champion Chargers have won 50 straight games dating back to February, 2009.

McLaren knows someone eventually will have to end that streak.

"We've watched them just win and win and win," McLaren said of the team that has knocked the Sailors out of the playoffs the past two years, in the semifinals and final, respectively. "We're ready to beat them. We're ready to be the team that upsets Dos Pueblos."

This is the teams' first high school meeting since that Division I final last year. Dos Pueblos has also won the TOC the past two years.

Santa Barbara faces Los Alamitos in the other semifinal, with the championship game at 4:35 p.m. at Santa Barbara.

Corona del Mar (8-5) plays Montebello in a fifth-place semifinal at 9 a.m., also at Santa Barbara High.

Newport Harbor earned its shot at the champs by coming out strong against the Sea Kings, unlike in the Battle of the Bay earlier this year where the Sailors had to rally for a 6-5 overtime victory.

Friday night, they built a 2-0 lead in the first three minutes. McLaren and senior Kailyn Obenauer both scored, the latter goal on a counter. CdM's Diana Murphy scored from set, on a pass from Ally McCormick, to narrow the deficit with 3:21 left in the first quarter.

The score stayed the same until just before halftime, when a strong drive by senior Mary Rose Wight earned a penalty shot. McLaren converted it, giving the Sailors a 3-1 halftime lead.

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