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Musselman, Harrington in spotlight

Girls' Water Polo

CdM senior and Newport sophomore have helped lead their respective teams to Saturday's CIF title match.

February 24, 2012|By Matt Szabo
(Steven Georges…)

Alex Musselman is a known quantity in girls' water polo. The Corona del Mar High senior goalie, a three-year starter who committed to UCLA last April, was the Newport-Mesa Player of the Year as a junior.

Cleo Harrington is the first-year starter for Newport Harbor in the cage. She is a sophomore. In high school sports, that's a word that's sometimes used in front of a name to temper expectations.

Not with Harrington, who has established herself alongside Musselman. They are perhaps the top two goalies in the CIF Southern Section.

Laguna Beach Coach Ethan Damato wouldn't argue with that, especially after Harrington had 17 saves in Wednesday night's Division 1 semifinal win over his Breakers.

"I haven't played Alex Musselman," Damato said. "I think the best goalie I've seen is Cleo Harrington. I thought she played another outstanding game [Wednesday]."

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Maybe it's just like Coke vs. Pepsi, the Rolling Stones vs. the Beatles. Maybe there doesn't need to be any superiority between the two players.

Simply put, Musselman and Harrington are both studs. On Saturday night at 7:45, when No. 1-seeded Corona del Mar battles No. 2 Newport Harbor at Woollett Aquatics Center for the CIF crown, it will be their time to shine.

At just about 6-foot tall, Musselman is about three inches taller than Harrington. But they do have similarities. Both are very humble. One could even say both are great role models; Musselman has two younger sisters and Harrington two younger brothers.

The two young women don't know each other too well. They formally met Friday morning — at the photo shoot for this article.

But Musselman, who was named the Most Outstanding Goalie at the Irvine Southern California Championships three weeks ago, has no problem sharing the limelight with Harrington.

"It is kind of similar, because she's starting as a sophomore," Musselman said. "She's very talented, and I think she's going to go very far in water polo. When I saw her, I was like 'She's really, really good.' I think she's definitely one of the best goalies in CIF. And she's just a sophomore. She's so young. She has so much time to get so much better.

"I think she plays with a lot of confidence, which is a really good thing when you're a goalie, especially when she's so young."

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