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CdM emerges as champion

Sea Kings, who have tournament MVP Murphy, shrug off 4-0 deficit to top Newport Harbor in Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions title game.

January 14, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • Corona del Mar's Cassidy Papa scored three goals against Newport Harbor.
Corona del Mar's Cassidy Papa scored three goals… (Vince Agapito )

SANTA BARBARA — They definitely did it the hard way.

The Corona del Mar High girls' water polo team fell behind in each of its final three games at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

In each game, the Sea Kings owned the fourth quarter. Now they have the championship hardware to prove it.

Corona del Mar rallied from a four-goal deficit to stun Back Bay rival Newport Harbor, 10-8, in the TOC final Saturday night at Santa Barbara High. And, while the Sea Kings said it definitely felt good to beat the Sailors for the third time this season, winning the tournament meant more.

"I think that we fought really hard," said Princeton-bound CdM senior Diana Murphy, the tournament MVP. "[We were] just thinking, 'This is our last game, our last chance, our last trip to Santa Barbara together.' "

Cal-bound senior Pippa Saunders, also an all-tournament team selection, nodded.

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"For the seniors, it's emotional," Saunders said.

Nobody could say CdM (14-1) didn't earn its third Santa Barbara TOC title, and first since 2008. In a semifinal win over Los Alamitos, the Sea Kings were down 5-3 in the first quarter. But they gave up just two goals the rest of the way, again rallying for a 9-7 victory.

"It shows that there's still definitely room for improvement, but the girls play with so passion for each other," CdM Coach Sam Bailey said. "More than anything I think that their ability to really focus on the present and concentrate on doing their best in that particular moment, it really helps them out in situations like that. I don't think at any moment they panicked or felt confused or lacked confidence."

The Santa Barbara TOC is arguably the toughest of the three in-season tournaments. An all-Back Bay final was impressive, considering CdM and Newport were the third and fourth seeds, respectively.

UCLA-bound senior Maddy McLaren and junior Elissia Schilling earned all-tournament team honors for the Sailors (11-4), who have lost halftime leads in each of their three games against CdM.

Credit Murphy, who scored 12 goals in the four-game tournament and consistently terrorized opposing defenses at two meters. But it certainly looked bleak for the Sea Kings early in the championship game. Michigan-bound Newport senior Presley Pender scored twice in the first quarter, and Schilling and Carly Christian added goals as the Sailors built a 4-0 lead early in the second.

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