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Boys' Water Polo: Sailors fall in semifinals

Newport Harbor slows down counterattack for much of game, but Hooper helps Harvard-Westlake make final.

November 20, 2013|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High's Luca Cupido gets in the face and blocks the shot of Harvard-Westlake's Raphael Raede as Sailors' goalie Massimo Navaretta looks on during a CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal on Wednesday.
Newport Harbor High's Luca Cupido gets in the face… (Don Leach, Daily…)

IRVINE — The last instructions Newport Harbor High boys' water polo coach Robert Lynn gave to his team coming out of halftime were crystal clear.

"Keep it under control, guys," Lynn told his players as they waited along the lane line. "Keep covering back. Take their counter away."

For the better part of three quarters, the Sailors indeed were able to take away Studio City Harvard-Westlake's counterattack in Wednesday night's CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal match.

But then Harvard-Westlake junior Johnny Hooper got free for a goal with two seconds left in the third quarter.

Then Hooper scored again at the left post in the fourth, on a lob. Then he scored yet again from the same spot, again on the counterattack and again on a lob.

Three counterattack strikes, and the Sailors are out.

Hooper finished with a game-high four goals as the No. 2-seeded Wolverines rallied for a 9-6 victory at Woollett Aquatics Center, ending No. 3-seeded Newport Harbor's season.

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Harvard-Westlake moves on to play top-seeded Mater Dei in Saturday's final at 1 p.m. The Monarchs, who feature eight Newport Beach residents, are going for their fourth straight Division 1 title. They beat Loyola, 7-3, in the second semifinal Wednesday night.

Mater Dei is 3-0 against Harvard-Westlake this season.

Lynn's Sailors (23-5) improved over their showing in the first meeting with his former team, a 20-11 loss at the Santa Barbara tournament in September. Harvard-Westlake Coach Brian Flacks, who was hired at the school after Lynn left for Newport Harbor in 2011, was very complimentary of the Sailors after Wednesday night's contest. Flacks said that it was only the fifth time this year the high-powered Harvard-Westlake attack was held under 10 goals; Mater Dei did it three of the times and Division 2 finalist Agoura did it once.

"All the credit to Newport Harbor, and Robert and [assistant coach] Pavle [Filipovic]," Flacks said. "They did a fantastic job. They did a great job really slowing us down and making us play in the half court, and it was tough for us. We couldn't get out in transition ... they did a great job defensively and Massimo [Navarretta] came up with huge saves. They did a great job in helping on defense and forcing turnovers."

Still, it wasn't enough to extend the Sailors' season.

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