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Everybody loves Luca

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Newport Harbor senior Luca Cupido, a dynamic player, helped Sailors win Battle of the Bay for third straight year.

October 11, 2013|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High's Luca Cupido is the Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week.
Newport Harbor High's Luca Cupido is the Daily Pilot… (Don Leach, Daily…)

It would be fair to say that Luca Cupido has taken the Newport Harbor High aquatics community by storm.

The 6-foot-4 senior has made waves ever since arriving in Newport Beach two months ago from his hometown of Santa Margherita Ligure, along the northern coast of Italy.

The Sailors' pool deck was even more packed than usual for the Battle of the Bay last weekend, and it makes sense that at least some of the people were there to see Cupido perform. He didn't disappoint, scoring three goals to tie for the team lead and also coming up with four steals in the Sailors' 10-8 win.

Then there was the lob penalty shot he put in during the finals of the South Coast Tournament last month against Mater Dei. People are still talking about that one.

Cupido is unquestionably one of the best field players in CIF. The top scorer for Coach Robert Lynn's Sailors, he has helped Newport Harbor to a 13-3 record entering this weekend's S&R Cup tournament, as well as a No. 3 ranking in CIF Southern Section Division 1.

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Yet he also is fun-loving, charismatic and, yes, a little bit flashy.

"He's from Italy, so that's always cool," Newport sophomore girls' water polo player Sammie Garcia said.

Oh yes, the girls factor. Take away the "O" from his last name, and you have the effect that he has on many of the girls on Newport Harbor. Though he'll be called this for the purpose of this Athlete of the Week article, don't call him Cupido. He's already on a first name basis among the Sailors and their fans.

He's just "Luca," a four-letter name that's fun to say, kind of like "Kobe" if you're a Los Angeles Lakers fan. It's also fun to use on Twitter as a hashtag, #luca, something some of the players on the Newport girls' team have done in recent weeks.

Cupido, who said he doesn't currently have a girlfriend, learned about their love for him at the Battle of the Bay when he forgot his robe in the locker room prior to the team introductions.

"I run across the deck from the bench, and I hear, 'Whoa!,' girls shouting," he said. "I turned and I said, 'Wow, I didn't know I had this big fan club.' I didn't expect this. I knew there was all the people, but I didn't know it was a lot of people for me. Yeah, I like it, it's good."

It's all in good fun, and Cupido smiles when the opposite sex is brought up.

"Probably it's the accent that they like," he said with a big grin.

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