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High Schools: CdM girls' water polo team came together to win crown

February 26, 2013|By Matt Szabo
(SCOTT SMELTZER…)

Some called the Corona del Mar High girls' water polo team the team to beat in CIF Southern Section Division 1 all the way back in December.

Foothill Coach Jeff Colton and Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett were among those who used those words at the time. This was true, even though the Sea Kings' senior transfers from Greece, USC signees Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis, weren't eligible until January.

With all of its pieces together, Corona del Mar (27-4) did have a lot of talent on its team. But Coach Sam Bailey knew that talent alone guaranteed nothing.

"It wasn't going to be the most talented group of athletes who were going to be CIF champs," Bailey said Tuesday. "It was going to be the best team. The most talented group isn't always going to be the best. Look at the Lakers this year, or even when they got Karl Malone and Gary Payton [in 2004 but lost to the underdog Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals]."

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Bailey could be very proud of his team after Saturday's Division 1 title match. The Sea Kings defeated rival and defending champion Newport Harbor, 6-5, with a total team effort. In the process, they earned their first title in the top division.

Consider that CdM's top scorer (Stephania Haralabidis), fourth-highest scorer (Ioanna Haralabidis) and fifth-highest scorer (Maddie Musselman) combined for no goals in the title match. Stephania did lead the Sea Kings with three steals. Musselman was positive from the bench, but she missed the last two matches of the playoffs after Bailey said she broke her wrist in a bicycle accident early last week.

Others stepped up on offense. Senior Ally McCormick, who is headed to BYU for swimming, tied a season-high with four goals. Senior co-captain Cassidy Papa (Stanford) also scored on a counterattack. And junior center Marina Coskinas came up with a huge goal from two meters to give CdM a 6-4 advantage in the fourth quarter.

These performances were important. But so was the one from senior Morgan Stewart, who stepped up on both ends of the pool and also as a backup center to Coskinas. And sophomore Eliza Britt, who had played sparingly in big games since the team was short-handed to begin the year, had a big field block in the third quarter to stop a Newport Harbor six-on-five.

CdM senior goalie Erica Weed, the other co-captain, made six saves. One of them, on a fairly close shot in the fourth quarter with the Sailors on a six-on-five, preserved a one-goal lead at the time.

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