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Girls' Water Polo: Crown the Queens

Corona del Mar wins first CIF Southern Section Division 1 title after dethroning Back Bay rival Newport Harbor.

February 23, 2013|By Matt Szabo
  • Corona del Mar's girls' water polo team celebrates a CIF Southern Section Division 1 victory over Newport Harbor on Saturday at the Woollett Aquatics Center.
Corona del Mar's girls' water polo team celebrates… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

IRVINE — They were given pink crowns as they entered Woollett Aquatics Center on Saturday night.

They waved white and purple and pink pompoms, the team colors of the Corona del Mar High girls' water polo team.

For the Sea Kings and their fans, this was a victory that was seven years in the making.

That crown? It finally fits just right.

Senior Ally McCormick scored four goals and CdM held on to defeat rival Newport Harbor, 6-5, to capture its first CIF Southern Section Division 1 title.

This one was for the 2008 team, which lost a three-goal lead and fell to the Sailors in the final. This one was for the 2009 team, which was edged by Dos Pueblos. It was even for last year's team, which again lost a three-goal lead to Newport Harbor in the championship match.

All three of those heartbreaking losses were by one goal. But now the proud Corona del Mar program is the one on top.

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"You look at Ted Bandaruk, who was a lot of these kids' first water polo coach," CdM Coach Sam Bailey said. "You look at John Vargas, who really did everything to put CdM on the map. Mike Starkweather from the swim side. Obviously, Aaron Chaney, I look at him as being a John Wooden-esque type of coach. And you also have to pay serious tribute to all the parents and athletes who came before any of these girls. The culture that CdM has is, in my opinion, very unique and very special. I think that anybody who's become really close to the program would agree.

"What an amazing atmosphere that the program's put together here."

The No. 3-seeded Sea Kings (27-4) did it with defense. They held No. 4-seeded Newport Harbor (24-7) to two for seven on its power play. The Sailors had three possessions in the final two minutes, and all they could manage was three shots from outside five meters. Two went wide left. The last one, off a timeout with two seconds left, went over the cage at the buzzer from about six meters.

"Our goal was to play through the entire clock, because a lot of times we start to get lazy in the last 10 seconds and that's where they get off their goals," McCormick said. "We made that adjustment. [Assistant coach Brian] Mericle was the one who really brought that up. He was like, 'You guys need to play through the entire clock,' and obviously it worked. It was kind of a game-changer."

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