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Girls' Water Polo: CdM tops Newport Harbor for third place in Irvine SoCal Championships

Sea Kings bounce back from semifinal loss to Foothill, topping Newport Harbor for third place in tourney.

February 02, 2013|By Matt Szabo
(Scott Smeltzer…)

IRVINE — Quarterfinals, semifinals, third-place match, championship match. It doesn't really matter.

The last two seasons, the Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor High girls' water polo teams have always found a way to meet up in a tournament.

"We can't avoid Newport," CdM senior Cassidy Papa said. "It just goes back and forth. It's fun."

The Sea Kings and Sailors now have played nine times in that two-season span. Their latest encounter was Saturday, in the third-place match of the Irvine Southern California Championships.

Papa helped make sure that it was her team that finished the tournament with a win.

The Stanford-bound co-captain had five goals, two assists and three steals as CdM rallied for a 9-7 victory at Woollett Aquatics Center to claim the bronze over the Sailors. It is the best tournament finish of the season for Corona del Mar (20-4).

"We're finally proving that we can play as a team," Papa said. "Everyone was kind of doubting it and saying that we were a team of individuals for a while there. We're finally becoming cohesive, and right before CIF that's what we're looking to do."

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Each Back Bay team suffered semifinal losses earlier Saturday. The Sea Kings fell to top-seeded Foothill, 6-5, and the Sailors lost to Santa Barbara for the third time this season, 5-3.

Santa Barbara went on to capture the tournament title over Foothill, 5-4. The Dons, who have won 15 matches in a row, more than likely clinched the top seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs with the win.

CdM, which was ranked No. 4 in Division 1 coming into the tournament, could now earn the No. 3 seed. The Sea Kings are 2-2 against Newport Harbor this season. Papa and senior Ioanna Haralabidis were all-tournament team selections from CdM, and senior co-captains Carly Christian and Elissia Schilling earned all-tournament team status for Newport Harbor.

CdM took a 5-3 halftime lead in the third-place match after Papa scored on a counterattack, then from outside five meters off a foul. Ioanna Haralabidis, who has been emerging as a center defender, had picked up two exclusions in the first half guarding Schilling. But CdM sophomore Eliza Britt came in and played effective defense late in the half, causing a turnover.

"We were screaming at her to push and push, and she was working really hard," Haralabidis said. "I'm really proud of her."

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