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Sailors step up, prevail

Newport Harbor overcomes McLaren's absence to defeat rival CdM for third time this season, and get to semis.

February 04, 2011|By Matt Szabo,

CORONA DEL MAR — Sitting beside coaches Bill Barnett and Brian Melstrom, Maddy McLaren yelled encouragement to her Newport Harbor High girls' water polo teammates.

She could pass for a coach herself Friday night — a coach with a fractured rib, bruised collarbone and her right arm in a sling.

McLaren missed the Sailors' third matchup of the season against Back Bay rival Corona del Mar due to injury, but the Sailors worked with what they had.


They couldn't be too surprised after beating CdM for the third time.

An inspired effort helped fourth-seeded Newport Harbor win the Irvine Southern California Championships quarterfinal, 7-4, Friday night at CdM. The Sailors will play top-seeded Dos Pueblos in a semifinal today at 10 a.m. at Irvine's Woollett Aquatics Center.

"We really had nothing to lose," said senior Kailyn Obenauer, who scored a game-high three goals. "We had one of our starters out, so we had to step up. We had no choice."

McLaren was hurt in the fourth quarter of Thursday's second-round win over El Toro. She said she hopes to be back within two weeks.

She's the team's leading scorer and one of its better defenders. She also scored five goals the last time the Sailors beat CdM, by the same 7-4 score in the quarterfinals of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

This time, she watched as the Sailors (19-4) put on an impressive defensive display against the Sea Kings (16-6). They switched it up from a press defense to a drop, forcing CdM to try to win the game from the outside. The Sea Kings couldn't, with just two goals deep into the fourth quarter.

Plenty of shots hit the post in the first half, but Newport Harbor nursed a 3-2 halftime lead behind two outside shots from senior Mary Rose Wight. Then came the decisive third quarter.

Newport sophomore Elissia Schilling scored on her specialty, a back-hander from set. Then junior Presley Pender got into a two-on-one situation on a counter, keeping the ball and sneaking it into the right corner of the goal.

After two power-play goals from Obenauer, the score was 7-2 and the rout was on.

"We had a big third quarter offensively," Barnett said. "That's what really helped … Under the circumstances of not having our best player here, I think the whole team stepped up and played really well. They rose to the occasion."

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