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Sailors stay alive

Girls' Water Polo

Newport Harbor advances to final to meet rival CdM after pushing past Laguna Beach in OT.

February 22, 2012|By Matt Szabo
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

IRVINE — It is very difficult to beat a good team four times in the same season.

That was what the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team had to accomplish Wednesday night in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals.

Game-planning against the Sailors? That's something even more difficult.

On Wednesday night at Woollett Aquatics Center, it was the turn of juniors Allyson Hall and Avery Peterson to step up big. Boy, did they ever.

Each scored goals in overtime as the Sailors outlasted Laguna Beach, 7-6, to advance to Saturday night's final against Back Bay rival Corona del Mar, at 7:45 p.m. back at Woollett.

"It's definitely hard to come in and beat a team four times in a row, especially three in overtime," Peterson said. "But we knew that the team who was the most enthusiastic, the team that had the most energy was the one who was going to win. All of the CIF games are so close. It could go either way."

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It was another epic battle between the No. 2-seeded Sailors (26-4) and No. 3 Breakers (23-7). Three of their four games have gone to overtime. Each time Newport Harbor has found a way to make sure the final result did go its way.

There has been no hotter team at the end of the season than the Sailors, who notched their 15th straight victory. The depth has a lot to do with it.

"They've got a lot of girls," Laguna Beach Coach Ethan Damato said. "You know, we tried to take Elissia [Schilling] out, I thought we did a good job there. We tried to keep [Maddy] McLaren off the scoreboard. We've done a good job with those two things when we've played them, but it's pick your poison. Someone's going to have to beat you in a game like this. Those girls stepped up for them today."

Schilling and McLaren combined for just one goal. But Peterson, who had a career-high six steals while playing defense against Laguna freshman phenom Makenzie Fischer, helped Newport go up in overtime.

She drove inside, taking the pass from senior Sophie Leveque before scoring on a lob with 1:44 left in the first three-minute overtime period.

Newport junior Carly Christian, who had a goal and drew three exclusions, fouled out with 2:30 left in the second overtime period. In came Hall, who had also scored earlier in the game.

"I didn't expect her to foul out," Hall said. "I was like, 'Oh geez.' I had to be ready. I just went in and tried my best."

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