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Boys' Water Polo: Sailors close strong

Newport Harbor scores last five goals to earn victory over Dana Hills, set up semifinal matchup with Lynn's former team Harvard-Westlake.

November 16, 2013|By Matt Szabo

Newport Harbor High senior Mitchell Mendoza is usually pretty reserved, but not on Saturday.

After walking the ball in from the right side, he scored cross-cage. He then violently splashed the water, in the direction of some of his friends on the east side of the Sailors' pool deck.

Mendoza's goal early in the third quarter of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal game gave the Sailors a one-goal lead on Dana Hills. He celebrated again after scoring on a counterattack on Chad Sheldon's pass, then again after scoring near-side on a six-on-five chance later in the quarter.

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"All of my friends that never come to my games were there this time," Mendoza said after the game. "I just saw them, and it got me fired up. And it's CIF. It's do-or-die; you've got to go out with a bang. It could have been my last game."

Each of these three goals gave the Sailors the lead. They extended it in the fourth quarter by shutting out the Dolphins, pulling away for a 14-9 victory in front of an overflow crowd.

Mendoza ended up with a game-high five goals for No. 3-seeded Newport Harbor (23-4). The Sailors will play No. 2-seeded Harvard-Westlake in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Irvine's Woollett Aquatics Center.

Harvard-Westlake blasted Northwood, 18-4, in another quarterfinal game Saturday.

The Sunset League champion Sailors certainly got a game from South Coast League champion Dana Hills (20-9). Neither team led by more than a goal until the end of the third quarter, when the Sailors created some breathing room.

Sophomore Ben Morrison scored from center on a pass from junior Jack Mooers, giving the Sailors a 10-9 edge. Then senior Luca Cupido scored in transition from about nine meters with two seconds left in the quarter, providing Newport Harbor its first two-goal lead. Nobody on Dana Hills came out to defend Cupido, and he made the Dolphins pay.

The Sailors pulled away after that. Sheldon skipped in a goal with 4:16 left in the game, giving Newport Harbor a 12-9 advantage. Then, after a Dana Hills power-play chance went off the left bar, Cupido scored on a sweep shot off Mendoza's pass for the Sailors' 13th goal.

The fifth unanswered goal, closing out the game, came from Morrison with 1:35 left.

"Eventually, we thought our conditioning would break them a little bit," Newport Harbor Coach Robert Lynn said. "If we survived the first couple of quarters, three quarters, then I thought eventually we'd slip away from them, which happened."

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