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Girls' Water Polo: Newport Harbor wins epic battle against Laguna Beach

Sailors prevail over Breakers in overtime, setting up semifinal clash with top-seeded Santa Barbara.

February 16, 2013|By Matt Szabo
(Don Leach | Daily…)

LAGUNA BEACH — It has been more than two decades now since Bill Barnett coached Erich Fischer at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.

Team USA lost in the semifinals that year on the way to a fourth-place finish.

On Saturday afternoon it was Fischer's daughter, Makenzie, who nearly sent Barnett's high school team home a round earlier in an upset loss.

Makenzie Fischer, a sophomore at Laguna Beach High, scored a match-high six goals for the Breakers in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal match. Don't be surprised if she's on the Olympic team one day like her dad. In front of a standing-room only crowd, she was the best player in the water.

It took extra time, but the defending champion Sailors still move on.

Senior Carolyn Smith and junior Christina O'Beck scored in overtime as No. 4-seeded Newport Harbor held on for an epic 11-10 victory at the Breakers' pool.

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Newport Harbor (23-6) plays top-seeded Santa Barbara in the semifinals Wednesday night at Irvine's Woollett Aquatics Center. The Dons defeated Irvine, 13-4, in another quarterfinal match Saturday.

The Sailors did not lead their quarterfinal until the final minute of the fourth quarter. The match was nothing like the Sailors' 10-4 nonleague victory over Laguna Beach (19-10) three weeks earlier at the same pool.

"I was very impressed with their intensity," Barnett said of the Breakers. "They certainly came to play hard."

Laguna Beach set the tone in the opening quarter, taking a 5-3 lead. Fischer had four of the goals, including one on a penalty shot that she drew.

Newport Harbor, which was led in scoring by O'Beck with four goals and senior co-captain Carly Christian with three, would tie the score six times in the match. The first five times, Laguna managed to take the lead again.

"I thought we showed a lot of resilience and a lot of toughness today," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "That's just really indicative of this group of girls … We were really confident that we would be able to come out here and do what we did today. I'm really proud of the girls. I thought we did everything we needed to do to win the game."

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