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Girls' Water Polo: Sailors edge Eagles

Newport Harbor defensive, effective, as it beats Santa Margarita for third time this season.

January 26, 2013|By Matt Szabo

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA — The Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team had to put up with the elements on a rainy and foggy Saturday afternoon at Santa Margarita High.

Putting up with Santa Margarita senior center Emily Loughlin, who plays on the U.S. women's youth national team, is more difficult.

Loughlin was constantly double-teamed by Newport senior Avery Peterson and sophomore Rachel Whitelegge. The Sailors also ran a drop defense on her.

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"[Loughlin] is so strong that you've got to drop from the outside and hope that their outside shooters don't have a good day," Coach Bill Barnett said.

It was the Sailors who ended up with another good day at the end of the back-and-forth game, taking a 10-9 nonleague victory. Junior goaltender Cleo Harrington made five of her 12 saves in the fourth quarter — all on shots from the perimeter.

Santa Margarita got the ball back with 11 seconds left, but there was a miscommunication between junior goalie Nikki Doumas and Emily Wan. Newport sophomore Kate Pipkin easily stole the pass up the pool, sealing the victory.

Wan, a junior, had a team-high three goals and five steals for Santa Margarita (16-4), the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 2. She also gave props to the Sailors (15-4), ranked No. 3 in Division 1, and their defense.

Loughlin scored twice and drew three exclusions, but the Eagles were only able to go two for six on the power play.

"They ran a really good drop," Wan said. "They know that Emily Loughlin is a really strong center, and that they have to limit her. They had two people on her at all times, and it was really hard for us to get the ball to her, which forced us to look at other options. It forced us to shoot from outside, which is really hard because Cleo's a really good goalie."

In each win against Santa Margarita, the margin has gotten smaller. Wan said she looks forward to possibly playing Newport Harbor again in the quarterfinals of next weekend's Irvine Southern California Championships. The teams are in the same group and could meet Friday night.

Senior Carolyn Smith again led the Sailors with three goals Saturday. One of them was a spectacular shot at the halftime buzzer. It was a heave from past mid-pool that hit the bar, deflected off the goalie and went in. The goal gave Newport Harbor a 7-5 halftime lead.

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