CdM ends on high note

Girls' Water Polo

Saunders' strong play helps Sea Kings beat Newport Harbor for third place at Holiday Cup.

December 31, 2011|By Matt Szabo
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Pippa Saunders said it's hard to explain to people who don't play water polo.

When they ask how well she's been playing, they're usually asking how many goals she's been scoring. Nevermind that Saunders, who did lead the Corona del Mar High girls' water polo team with 66 goals last year, has changed roles a bit.

"It's different," Saunders said. "I take more pride in setting people up, getting that defensive stop, you know? ... It's not as glamorous, but at the end of the day, if we want to win I'm going to do my part. I'm going to set up other people if that's what it has to be. I just want to win, so if that means me not scoring goals and setting up other people, that's completely fine by me."

The Cal-bound senior is fourth on the Sea Kings in scoring, with eight goals. She still was able to take matters into her own hands Saturday, in the third-place game of the Holiday Cup at Newport Harbor High.


Saunders scored back-to-back goals in the third quarter as CdM rallied for its second win of the season over Back Bay rival Newport Harbor, 5-4. And after the game CdM Coach Sam Bailey said it was the best game he'd ever seen from Saunders, who fouled out late in the game but also had two steals and drew a pair of exclusions.

Her play was aggressive, passionate, urgent even.

"I don't think I've ever seen her play a more dominant game," Bailey said of Saunders, a four-year varsity player who is always a vocal leader for CdM. "[She was] just doing everything, really showing how much she loves her team and how much she really cares about her teammates. I feel like a lot of things in water polo, and probably in life, begin with communication. Pippa's ability to lead, both by example and also verbally, it was exemplified in this afternoon's game."

In fact, Bailey said, he was proud of the entire four-player senior class for coming back strong after a tough 6-4 semifinal loss to Santa Barbara. Newport Harbor lost its semifinal match, 7-5, to Foothill.

"For the girls to be able to take a loss that I'm sure they took pretty hard, and rebound like that at the end of a long weekend, it shows a lot of heart," Bailey said. "The seniors are incredible. They're so excited about playing for each other, so excited about playing the sport. You look at the defensive effort by Alex Musselman and especially Pippa Saunders, the offensive effort by Diana Murphy and, again, especially Pippa Saunders. And Victoria Pierotti is just being solid on every side of the ball."

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles