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Short-handed Corona del Mar finds a way to win

Girls’ Water Polo

Without four starters, top-ranked Sea Kings step up to shock Santa Barbara on the road.

December 08, 2012|By Matt Szabo

SANTA BARBARA — Want a sure-fire way to boost the confidence of a high school girls' water polo team?

Send them on the road, way north on Highway 101, to begin the season. Take away three of their starters for the weekend, girls regarded as some of the best prep players in the nation. Oh, subtract another starter for a game, too.

Then have that team beat one of the top teams in CIF Southern Section Division 1.

It happened Saturday, and Corona del Mar was that team coming back down Highway 101 with so much confidence.

The Sea Kings shocked Santa Barbara, 8-6, in a nonleague game between the two CIF Southern Section Division 1 powers at the Dons' pool. Top-ranked CdM again was without co-captain Cassidy Papa and fellow seniors Stephania Haralabidis and Ioanna Haralabidis, who are finishing up play at the FINA Youth World Championships in Australia.

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On Saturday they also were missing junior center Marina Coskinas (ACT test). But the Sea Kings (2-0) found a way to beat a full-strength Santa Barbara squad (0-2), the No. 3-ranked team in Division 1.

"It's totally remarkable," CdM Coach Sam Bailey said. "You look at the group that we have out here, and I think it's really unsuspecting to a lot of teams. You've just got to credit the girls for their hard work and their belief in themselves, and their belief in each other. I'm so proud of the girls who came in off the bench and stepped into starting roles. It's awesome. It's really, really awesome."

They were players such as junior Bobbi Hoose, who made her first varsity start in Coskinas' absence. Junior Annie Mortimer and sophomore Grace Morgan also came off the bench to have big field blocks in the fourth quarter. And sophomore Eliza Britt drew a penalty shot and had three steals, which tied her for the team lead with senior Ally McCormick and freshman Maddie Musselman.

"Sam wanted us to play more defensively and focus on that," Mortimer said. "That's what we've been working on a lot in practice with five-on-six, to get up and shot block and don't be timid. We knew that we had to step it up this week, because we were missing a lot of starters."

McCormick was dominant, scoring three goals and playing stellar defense on UCLA-bound senior Kelsey O'Brien, who battled foul trouble and was held scoreless. Musselman also had a breakout performance in her second varsity game.

The lanky 5-foot-9 freshman had a game-high four goals, the three steals and a pair of field blocks before fouling out.

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