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Boys' Water Polo: Sailors finish third

Newport beats Long Beach Wilson in S&R tourney third-place game, which could prove important for CIF seeding purposes.

October 12, 2013|By Matt Szabo
(KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

IRVINE — The CIF Southern Section Division 1 boys' water polo playoffs are still about a month away, but it's never too early to start thinking about them.

Perhaps more accurately, it's never too early to start thinking about avoiding Mater Dei in the semifinals.

Newport Harbor took a big step in doing just that late Saturday afternoon at Woollett Aquatics Center. The Sailors defeated Long Beach Wilson, 7-5, in the third-place match of the 20th S&R Sport Southern California water polo tournament.

The Sailors are ranked No. 3 in CIF, and Wilson is No. 4. The rankings should stay that way for now, as Newport Harbor (16-4) notched its second victory over the Bruins this year. The Sailors also won he teams' nonleague meeting, 9-8, on Sept. 10.

"If we lost this one, Wilson has the right to say that they could be in the third position," Newport Harbor Coach Robert Lynn said. "Then I would have to say, 'Well, the head-to-head [nonleague] game counts more.' I don't want to [have to] say that. I want to say that every time we play them, we're going to win. It was big for us to win today. Our guys knew that, and they stepped up."

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Corona del Mar finished seventh in the tournament after beating Miramonte, 17-10. Earlier Saturday the Sea Kings (9-7) lost to Los Alamitos, 8-7, in a fifth-place semifinal.

Newport Harbor, the two-time defending tournament champion, couldn't defend its title. The Sailors lost to Atherton Sacred Heart, 9-8, in a tournament semifinal earlier Saturday. It was a reversal of the Santa Barbara tournament last month, when the Sailors edged the Gators by a goal. But Newport showed it could rebound against Wilson.

"That was like a must-win game," said senior lefty Mitchell Mendoza, who tallied two goals, three steals, two field blocks and an assist against Wilson. "It was kind of tough this morning, but I'm glad we bounced back. If you want to play Mater Dei, you want to play them in the biggest game [the Division 1 championship match] when anything can happen."

Newport Harbor never trailed the third-place match, but it was close throughout. The Bruins' Brock Gordon brought his team within a goal on an outside shot with 4:11 left in the game, cutting the Sailors' lead in half to 6-5.

But Newport senior Luca Cupido (three goals and two steals) answered on his team's next possession. He took the quick pass from junior Clay Davison and scored on a sweep shot.

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