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Water Polo: Newport 'D' does trick

Harrington exceptional in goal, helping NWPF top United and advance to Junior Olympics platinum division.

August 01, 2013|By Matt Szabo
(KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

MISSION VIEJO — One thing most people have noticed about Cleo Harrington is that she tends to play her best in the biggest moments.

In 2011-12, she stepped in as a sophomore and helped the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team win the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title. She helped the Sailors get back to that title match last year, earning Newport-Mesa Co-Player of the Year accolades in the process. In both years, the Sailors won the rugged Sunset League.

But Thursday afternoon at Capistrano Valley High, in front of several top college coaches, Harrington perhaps showed just how much of an anchor she can be.

The incoming Sailors senior made a career-high 23 saves, helping Newport Water Polo Foundation's 18-and-under girls blank United (Mater Dei), 3-0, in a USA Water Polo Junior Olympics championship division pool-play game.

Eighth-seeded NWPF, which also defeated Thunder 14-3 in its opening game, moves on to the platinum division. Newport will play ninth-seeded Rose Bowl at 8 a.m. Friday at Fullerton College. Newport lost to Rose Bowl by a goal last weekend at the Manhattan Beach tournament, where Newport finished fourth.

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The other 18U team with locals in the championship division is SOCAL "Black," which features five recent graduates of Corona del Mar High (Cassidy Papa, and twins Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis) and Newport Harbor (Elissia Schilling and Avery Peterson).

SOCAL "Black," seeded No. 2, earned two easy wins Thursday at Capo Valley to also advance to the platinum division. SOCAL topped Force, 25-3, before getting past Santa Clara Valley, 17-2. SOCAL will play CHAWP in its first platinum division game at noon Friday, back at Capo Valley High.

Newport Coach Bill Barnett has been switching out his players throughout the summer. But in Thursday's game against United, he decided not to take Harrington out in the second half in favor of his other strong goalie, incoming junior goalie Carlee Kapana. Harrington already had 12 saves by halftime.

"I thought Cleo played great," Barnett said. "She was hot in the first half, so I figured, 'Hey, let's keep her in there.'"

Incoming junior lefty Ellie Reid scored twice for Newport, once on a lob in the second quarter and again from the right side in the third quarter. Incoming junior Kate Pipkin (two steals) also scored the game's opening goal in the first quarter, on the power play from about five meters.

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