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Girls' Water Polo: CdM finishes strong

Sea Kings feel good headed into CIF after taking care of Santa Margarita in regular-season finale.

February 07, 2013|By Matt Szabo
(Dennis Bress )

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA — The regular season really was anything but regular for the Corona del Mar High girls' water polo team.

The Sea Kings were ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division 1 to start the year, and they opened in December with big wins on the road at Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara while missing three senior starters.

Some called them the team to beat. But they struggled to find consistency in January, after their Greek transfers, Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis, were cleared to play. CdM didn't make the championship match of any of the three in-season tournaments.

But now we're in February, and nobody wants to play CdM in the Division 1 playoffs.

In fact, CdM Coach Sam Bailey made a declaration after his team's 11-7 nonleague victory at Santa Margarita on Thursday that should make opponents nervous.

"If ever this team is running on all cylinders, it's right now," Bailey said.

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The Sea Kings (23-4), the Pacific Coast League champions, await the release of the CIF playoff brackets Sunday morning. They likely will be seeded No. 3 or 4, and it doesn't appear that they will be an easy out.

They used a strong second quarter to seize control against the Eagles (21-6), the Trinity League champions who are ranked No. 2 in Division 2. First it was freshman Maddie Musselman scoring a six-on-five goal, the exclusion drawn by senior Cassidy Papa. Then Ioanna Haralabidis scored from outside to boost CdM's lead to 4-1.

After Santa Margarita's Morgan Martinez scored on a power play, Papa took junior Marina Coskinas' pass and scored a lob from the outside.

CdM added two more goals in the final two minutes of the half. Coskinas drew a penalty shot that Papa converted. Then, with 21 seconds left, Stephania Haralabidis scored on Ally McCormick's pass.

It was a five-goal quarter for the Sea Kings, who took a 7-3 lead into halftime and never looked back. They built the lead as large as six goals, when McCormick's strike with 5:04 left in the game made the score 11-5.

"I think that it's really nice that they're playing with a lot of energy at the right time," Bailey said. "They're trusting each other more than they ever have before, they're understanding each other's strengths and seeing the various openings and gaps."

Ioanna Haralabidis had three goals for CdM, while McCormick, Papa and Stephania Haralabidis each scored twice. Musselman and Coskinas added single goals, and Coskinas and the Haralabidis sisters tallied two steals each.

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