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Muller stepping up for Sailors

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Senior goalie, who had strong South Coast Tournament, has battled through tendinitis to shine in the cage.

September 28, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High goalie Wyatt Muller is the Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week.
Newport Harbor High goalie Wyatt Muller is the Daily Pilot… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Wyatt Muller does not mind the pressure that comes with being the last line of the defense for the Newport Harbor High boys' water polo team.

Last year he was a backup goalie for the Sailors. Koby Yokota, who is now at Pepperdine, had the starting role.

This year, Muller knew the starting job was his. In the summer, at the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics, Muller showed everyone he was up for it.

Muller had a standout tournament up in the Bay Area, helping Newport Beach Water Polo Club earn bronze in the 18-and-under division. Without Muller, that bronze wouldn't have been possible. He said he blocked two penalty shots at the end of a quarterfinal shootout win over Foothill.

"It was great," Muller said. "It was my first big, big tournament, so there was more pressure and stuff. It was awesome just getting to place."

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The place for Muller is between the pipes for the No. 2 team in CIF Southern Section Division 1. He had another strong tournament last weekend, when he made 44 saves in the South Coast Tournament. In the semifinals against Loyola he made a career-high 13 stuffs, including a huge stop on Loyola senior center Chancellor Ramirez in the final 30 seconds that helped preserve a 9-8 win.

In the final, Muller made nine saves as the Sailors stayed with Mater Dei until the end, when the Monarchs scored three late goals to earn a 7-4 victory.

Muller has been strong in goal, strong mentally too. He has battled through some early-season tendinitis and tight IT bands. Muller said the pain in his knees, which caused him to miss the season opener, is mostly gone. He is getting into better shape.

"I'm getting pretty close," Muller said. "I would say I'm 80-85% right now … I'm starting to get back into a routine."

Sailors Coach Robert Lynn noticed a pattern in his goalie last weekend.

"The second half was always stronger than the first," Lynn said. "Mentally, I'm sure he went through a process where he started out ginger early in the game, but he started strengthening up and got more determined. You could tell his mind got more into the game; I would say that's fortitude. He showed a lot of courage and played hurt. To me, that's leadership right there."

Muller is no stranger to water polo, the sport he started playing nine years ago. He played in the field for two years before switching to goalie.

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