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Sailors upset Knights

Newport Harbor, sans standout McLaren, comes out hot for huge victory at Foothill, led by Pender's two goals, four steals.

December 09, 2011|By Matt Szabo

SANTA ANA — It was going to take a total team effort for the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team to upset Foothill on Friday afternoon.

Maybe that's why the Sailors were so excited for the opportunity. They feel like they have a better team than some people might think.

They consistently showed it when it counted, getting big contributions from nearly everyone on the roster to stun the Knights, 13-11, at Foothill High.

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Newport Harbor is ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division I coaches' poll. That may change in the weeks to come.

"I think this proves we don't deserve to be [ranked] fifth," said junior Avery Peterson, who had two goals and three steals Friday. "We deserve to be a lot higher."

Foothill (4-1) is ranked No. 2 in Division I and generally considered to be one of the favorites, along with top-ranked Corona del Mar, to win CIF. But the Sailors (2-0) didn't let that fact bother them, nor the fact that they were playing without one of their top players in UCLA-bound senior Maddy McLaren.

McLaren, a first-team All-CIF player last year, is working as a counselor at a USA Water Polo training camp in Colorado this weekend. Newport Harbor still came out blazing hot.

Michigan-bound senior captain Presley Pender started the onslaught, skipping in a shot from seven meters on the game's first possession. Then Peterson found the upper-left corner from the outside.

Senior Sophie Leveque scored from in close on the power play before junior Carly Christian and then Pender again scored from the outside, helping the Sailors to a 5-2 lead early in the second quarter.

"It gives us a lot of confidence going into the season," said Pender, who had two goals and a game-high four steals. "We came in without Maddy and we were just like, 'All right. This is it. Let's just give it literally everything we have.'"

By halftime, Newport had an 8-4 lead. Seven different Sailors had already scored, also including goals from junior Elissia Schilling, senior Paisley Muller and the half's final goal, a lob from junior Carolyn Smith with 16 seconds left before intermission.

"There was a high energy level out there, especially early and especially with the shooting," Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett said.

Barnett watched the action wearing a neck brace, necessary after he said he had to have three cervical vertebrae fused last month.

"I'm slowly but surely recovering," said Barnett, whose team was also without the services of senior Allyson Hall.

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