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Boys' Water Polo: Bay belongs to Sailors again

Battle of the Bay

Newport Harbor uses balanced scoring to top CdM, winning the Battle of the Bay for the third straight year.

October 05, 2013|By Matt Szabo
(KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

Luca Cupido is something of a rock star at Newport Harbor High this fall, from the water polo fans who enjoy his electrifying game to the, ahem, high school girls who enjoy his 6-foot-4 frame in a Speedo.

The loudest cheers during introductions at Saturday night's Battle of the Bay game were for Cupido, the transfer from Italy. An 8-year-old kid on the sidelines, Finn LeSieur, danced around with an Italian flag draped around him. Someone else carried a sign professing love for Cupido.

Cupido did not disappoint in his first — and last — Battle of the Bay. Yet, in front of a huge standing-room only crowd, the Sailors proved that they have much more in their arsenal than just the flashy Italian.

Newport junior Clay Davison matched Cupido with three goals as the Sailors hung on to top rival Corona del Mar, 10-8, recording their third straight Battle of the Bay victory.

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Senior Mitchell Mendoza and junior center Chad Sheldon also scored twice for the Sailors (12-3), who never trailed.

"In the last game against Mater Dei [a 16-10 loss in the South Coast Tournament final], I felt like we were missing a few passes that were just natural in the water," Newport Harbor Coach Robert Lynn said. "Even though we were trying to play the ball to Luca, there's a natural play. You've got to play the natural flow of the game. No matter who it is, you have to get the ball to the right place, and we were forcing the ball to Luca too much. Tonight, we said everyone plays and we're all responsible. Don't be wild with your attacking ... I think we played a little more composed on the attack. The guys are getting more experienced all the time, getting more composure and more control."

Lynn walked over to the Newport Harbor team room after the game laughing and soaking wet. He said a group of 14-and-under girls threw him into the pool.

In his third year, Lynn has never lost the scheduled regular-season Battle of the Bay match. His team, ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division 1, seized control in the first half Saturday night, similar to when the teams met in the South Coast Tournament semifinals on Sept. 28. Newport Harbor won that contest, 10-6.

After Cupido struck first from four meters on Saturday night, CdM (5-5) evened the score late in the first quarter on a penalty shot by senior Jay Neiger. Newport Harbor sophomore Ben Morrison was issued a game misconduct on the play.

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