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A full-tank thriller

Girls' Water Polo

CdM goalkeeper Alex Musselman connects on an amazing full-tank shot with 0.65 seconds left to beat Newport Harbor.

December 16, 2011|By Matt Szabo
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — It was the kind of shot that, if captured on video, someone might upload to YouTube to get a bunch of hits.

It was the kind of shot that uplifts the spirits of one team and crushes the other, all in the blink of a eye.

It was the kind of shot that was almost too good to be true, a high-arcing heave from full-tank that dropped perfectly into the net at the other end.

And it came from ... Corona del Mar High senior goalie Alex Musselman?

Yes, you'd better believe it. A couple hundred people saw it happen with their own eyes Friday at Newport Harbor High.

Musselman is known for her saves. She still came up with a huge play on offense when her team needed it most.

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What an ending to the high-stakes Battle of the Bay girls' water polo game. Musselman's shot at the fourth-quarter buzzer went in, stunning host Newport Harbor and lifting CdM to a 6-5 victory in the teams' rivalry match.

"Dramatic" seemed almost too normal a word to describe Corona del Mar's first Battle of the Bay win in three years. "Surreal" might be closer to the truth.

"Instant classic" are probably two more words to describe it.

"I've never shot to win a game before," Musselman said. "It's the first time. I'm in shock. I didn't believe it happened. I just kind of shot it, because I knew it was the end of the end of the quarter. I no had idea what the time was."

In a 5-5 tie, the time was four seconds left in regulation when Newport Harbor got the ball. Coach Bill Barnett called timeout. The Sailors got a shot from outside five meters, but it went over the cage with 0.65 seconds left on the clock.

CdM assistant coach Brian Mericle quickly threw a replacement ball to Musselman, who chucked in what some might call a miracle shot at the buzzer. Newport Harbor sophomore goalie Cleo Harrington, who had matched Musselman block for block throughout the game, didn't have enough time to get back in the goal fast enough after starting at mid-tank following the Sailors' timeout.

It all happened lightning-fast.

"Somehow a ball appeared in my hand, and then I threw it," Musselman said. "That was what happened."

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