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CdM passes final test

Girls' Water Polo

Sea Kings step up defensively, beating Santa Margarita in final tuneup before CIF playoffs.

February 10, 2012|By Matt Szabo

CORONA DEL MAR — Emily Loughlin surprised the Corona del Mar High girls' water polo team at the start of Friday's nonleague game.

The 6-foot tall Santa Margarita junior center spun her defender and scored the game's first goal. Loughlin then drew a penalty shot, which she converted.

Loughlin's goals were no laughing matter for CdM, which found itself down two goals less than two minutes into the game. But the Sea Kings adjusted.

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The Eagles were only able to double that output over the next 26-plus minutes. CdM took control, earning a 10-4 victory in its final regular-season game before the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs.

"I don't think we were prepared for the talent of [Loughlin] and her strength," CdM Coach Sam Bailey said. "That's as strong a center as I've seen in CIF. I think that once the girls realized that it was going to be a competitive challenge to really defend this team, they definitely made an adjustment with their intensity and their concentration. They were definitely able to put together a team defense to slow down Santa Margarita."

Adjustments are good for a coach to see before CIF begins. Brackets will be released Sunday and Bailey's team is currently ranked No. 1 in Division I, as it has been for the majority of the regular season.

The team defense was evident for CdM (25-2). The Sea Kings held Santa Margarita (14-14), ranked No. 9 in Division II, to one for five in its extra-player opportunities.

"We're been really fortunate," Bailey said. "The girls who typically don't get a lot of playing time during varsity games have been incredibly competitive during practices. Our ability to practice our six-on-five against a challenging five-man team in practice, it's been beneficial for our six-on-five offense. Conversely, our ability to practice our five-man defense against a really competitive six-on-five offense has been tremendous."

Cassidy Papa and Diana Murphy each had a team-high four goals for CdM, which had a 4-2 lead by the end of the first quarter despite the early deficit. Ally McCormick added two goals and three steals.

Victoria Pierotti, Genevieve Weed and Marina Coskinas added steals for CdM, which was active defensively. Loughlin still did draw multiple exclusions and fouled out CdM utility player Pippa Saunders late in the third quarter, but she was unable to score again. Senior goalie Alex Musselman made 10 saves.

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