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Carpenter does it all

Senior captain is mainly a defender, but she's broadened her game this year for Newport Harbor.

January 22, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Don Leach / Daily…)

Catherine Carpenter has always thought that the best offense is a good defense.

People usually say the inverse is true, but Carpenter has always been defense-minded.

She comes from a tough family. Younger brother Benton, a sophomore at Newport Harbor High, also plays defense for the boys' polo team. Her father, Scott, was a two-way football lineman at Corona del Mar High before playing center and right guard at Stanford in the early 1980s.

Water polo games, like football games, can be won in the trenches. Catherine Carpenter doesn't mind.

"In AYSO soccer I was always a defender," she said. "In basketball I wasn't really into shooting it. I've always been more into defense. I've always thought that was a lot more important."

It's served the Stanford-bound senior well on the Newport Harbor girls' water polo team. For the past two years, she's been a primary two-meter defender.

Sailors Coach Bill Barnett is comfortable with Carpenter back there guarding set. It would be safe to say that his Sailors, they of the press defense, also put a premium on defense..

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"I think she's one of the best two-meter defenders in CIF," Barnett said. "But she's worked very, very hard to perfect her outside shot and she's also going in to set more."

This year Carpenter hasn't been able to focus solely on defense. Newport Harbor (12-4) needs her overall water polo ability on a fairly young team with just two returning starters.

Carpenter has responded, which Barnett likes to see from his senior captain. She was all-tournament team at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions last weekend, helping the Sailors to a fourth-place finish. The girl who is known for her defense is second on the team in steals to Presley Pender, yes, but she's also second in goals (20) to Maddy McLaren and first in assists (17).

She said she would have been very surprised last year, if you told her she would become such an offensive threat. Barnett isn't.

"She has good size, she's very smart and she's a really good swimmer," he said. "She has good mobility."

Carpenter said she has a 4.2 weighted grade-point average at Newport Harbor. She is part of a highly-touted recruiting class for the Cardinal, who were ranked No. 1 in the nation in this year's preseason poll.

Two of the other five girls who will be heading to Palo Alto next year are Dos Pueblos phenom Kiley Neushul and Los Alamitos senior Cory Dodson. In a span of five days this past week, Carpenter had to play three total games against those two future teammates.

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