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Boys' Water Polo: Sailors edge Wilson

Transfers Cupido (five-goals), Navarretta both impress, as Newport Harbor hangs on to upset higher ranked Bruins.

September 10, 2013|By Matt Szabo
  • Luca Cupido scored five goals for Newport Harbor High in its 9-8 win against Long Beach Wilson on Tuesday.
Luca Cupido scored five goals for Newport Harbor High… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

NEWPORT BEACH — There was a certain buzz at the pool deck at Newport Harbor High on Tuesday afternoon.

Everyone watched to see what senior Luca Cupido would do next for the Sailors.

Cupido, a 6-foot-4 transfer from Italy, said he arrived in Newport Beach about a month ago. For that, Newport Harbor can say "grazie" (thank you).

He scored a game-high five goals as the Sailors hung on to upset Long Beach Wilson, 9-8, in a nonleague battle of CIF Southern Section Division 1 powers.

The Bruins, who were Division 1 finalists last year, are ranked No. 3. Newport Harbor is ranked No. 8, but expect that to go up.

Cupido, wearing cap No. 6, not only scored the five goals, but he had two steals, an assist and drew two exclusions. He's a dynamic player who helped Italy capture the FINA Youth World Championships last December in Australia, as well as the FINA Junior World Championships in Hungary this summer.

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"I arrived and everybody's friendly, everyone was great," said Cupido, whose older brother, Giacomo, is a senior water polo player at Cal. "They treated me like a brother from the first day, so it was easy to be a part of this team. If I'm happy, the more I can do, so it's perfect. So far, so good."

Cupido leads the Sailors (2-0) with eight goals in their first two games, but the other seniors also were strong Tuesday. Lefty Mitchell Mendoza had three goals, a steal and a field block. Goalie Massimo Navarretta, a transfer from Foothill High, made 18 saves in the victory.

Eight of Navarretta's saves came in the first quarter alone, which ended with the Sailors with a 3-2 lead.

"We looked rusty on our shooting," said Wilson Coach Tony Martinho, adding that his team scored on just eight of 36 shots. "We missed a lot of early opportunities, and I definitely think they got some momentum from that."

The Bruins (0-1) can be excused if they're a little rusty early in the season. Their pool was broken at the start of the season, and Martinho said his squad didn't start training until Aug. 29

"I mean, we ran around on land and we got in the ocean a little bit," he said. "It's just different. No goals, you know?"

Wilson nearly scored enough goals in the second half to come back on Newport Harbor, which led 5-2 at halftime. The lead grew to 8-4 with two minutes left in the third quarter, when Mendoza scored in transition.

Mendoza scored again on a power-play drawn by freshman Ryan Hurst with 4:06 to go, pushing the lead back to 9-5. But Wilson did not give up.

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