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Griffins remove Sailors from perch

Smothering defense helps Los Alamitos control Newport Harbor and gain inside track toward Sunset League championship.

January 20, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — The Los Alamitos High girls' water polo team was tired of Newport Harbor dominating the Sunset League.

Before a packed house Wednesday night, the Griffins did something about it.

Big time.

Los Alamitos was on from the beginning, turning the much-anticipated showdown at Newport Harbor High into a 9-3 romp that gives the Griffins the inside track on their first league title in five years.

"We had won league five of the six years before Newport came into the league [in 2006-07]," Los Alamitos Coach Dave Carlson said. "We hadn't won since. We finished second every year. The girls, especially the senior class, they wanted to make their mark."

The Griffins did so. Newport Harbor (12-4, 2-1 in league) missed the mark, scoring just one goal in the first 24 minutes. The Sailors also missed a golden opportunity in a couple of regards.

Los Alamitos (18-2, 3-0) just needs to beat Marina and Huntington Beach to end the Sailors' four-year reign atop the league. As importantly, the Griffins would likely receive the No. 2 seed in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs, keeping them on the other side of the bracket from two-time defending champion Dos Pueblos.

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Teams want to avoid the Chargers and their 53-game winning streak as long as possible. Now Newport Harbor likely will be on Dos Pueblos' side of the bracket, as CIF rules state the top two teams from a league must to be in opposite halves.

The Sailors looked lost offensively at times Wednesday. Carlson knows Newport Harbor is dangerous at two meters, with senior Kailyn Obenauer and sophomore Elissia Schilling. Senior Catherine Carpenter and junior Maddy McLaren also set for the Sailors.

But Newport didn't even get a good opportunity at two meters until the first half was almost over. Schilling found the net first with 2:59 left in the first half, and even that wasn't easy. She lobbed the ball in after her first shot was rejected by Los Al senior goalie Savanna Smith (10 saves and four steals).

That made the score 3-1, Los Alamitos. The Sailors would not get closer, as Stanford-bound Los Al senior Cory Dodson (four goals and three steals) scored with 33 seconds left before halftime to give the Griffins a 4-1 lead.

Dodson already had two exclusions, one away from fouling out. Newport Harbor didn't make Los Al pay, as the Griffins instead scored four times in the third quarter to take a commanding 8-1 lead.

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