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Water Polo: SOCAL into semis at USA Junior Olympics

Team featuring five Newport Beach players moves on in 18Us. CdM 18Us, Newport 16Us also in classic division semifinals.

August 03, 2013|By Matt Szabo
(SCOTT SMELTZER…)

SANTA ANA — Stephania Haralabidis, who moved to Southern California from Greece last year, still can't always articulate her feelings well in English.

But that doesn't stop the feisty Corona del Mar High graduate, who will play water polo at USC next year, from having things to say.

At the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics, Haralabidis and her twin sister Ioanna are playing for 18-and-under favorite SOCAL Black, along with fellow CdM graduate Cassidy Papa and Newport Harbor High graduates Elissia Schilling and Avery Peterson.

Language barriers aside, Stephania Haralabidis still is able to perfectly express what it's like playing with two athletes from rival Newport Harbor, which was CdM's opponent in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship match last February.

"It's kind of funny," Haralabidis said Saturday. "We hated Newport, and now we love them."

There's a lot to love about SOCAL Black, which features many of the best players from across Orange County. All five Newport-Mesa residents contributed Saturday, helping SOCAL Black defeat Huntington Beach Blue, 14-13, in an 18-and-under platinum division quarterfinal at Foothill High.

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SOCAL Black will play Santa Barbara A, which features another Newport Harbor graduate in Carly Christian, in the semifinals at 9:20 a.m. Sunday at Beckman High. It will be a rematch of the U.S. Club Championships title match, which SOCAL won, 10-9, on July 7 at Norco High.

SET meets Huntington Beach Blue in the other 18U platinum semifinal, at 9:20 a.m. Sunday at Foothill High. The JOs championship match has been moved up, and now is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Sunday at UC Irvine.

Papa, last year's Newport-Mesa Co-Player of the Year who is headed to Stanford, said playing on SOCAL has been fun and a nice change of pace.

"We were always with our high school teams, so JOs was never the major goal for us," Papa said. "It was always working into CIF and season. So it's fun to experience all of these summer tournaments, and now JOs is a big deal. We're like, 'Oh, we're top four at JOs, this is so fun.' Who would have thought?"

Stephania Haralabidis scored five goals against Huntington Beach, adding two steals. Schilling, a center headed to UCLA, had two goals, two assists and drew two exclusions. Ioanna Haralabidis also scored twice, as did Papa. Peterson, a defender who is bound for USC, had a pair of assists and also two steals.

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