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Girls' Water Polo: Sailors clamp down

Strong defensive effort helps Newport Harbor win at El Toro. Holiday Cup next.

December 28, 2013|By Matt Szabo

LAKE FOREST — The message was not exactly new, but Newport Harbor High girls' water polo coach Bill Barnett gave it to his girls anyway before Saturday's nonleague game at El Toro.

Barnett told his players that he wanted to see them play good defense to start the game. And it was mission accomplished for the Sailors after posting a 10-5 victory.

Newport Harbor (4-1) limited El Toro (3-3) to just three goals in the final three quarters. The host Chargers did seem to be making it interesting before the Sailors put the clamps down.

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El Toro junior Camila Martinez scored from set early in the second quarter, tying the score at 3-3. But the Sailors scored six unanswered goals over the next 14-plus minutes.

By the time El Toro's Shelby Rascon scored from the outside early in the fourth quarter, the Sailors were up 9-3.

"That's one of the things that I emphasized at the beginning of the game, that we had to play good defense to start with," Barnett said, who laughed as he added some alliteration to his thoughts. "That was my No. 1 message in my pregame preamble."

Alliteration can be fun. Coming off a 7-5 Battle of the Bay loss to rival Corona del Mar on Dec. 20, the Sailors found getting a win to be an enjoyable experience as well.

Junior Kate Pipkin led everyone with four goals. Senior Heidi Fults also had a strong game with two goals and two steals. Senior goalie Cleo Harrington (fives saves) and junior Carlee Kapana (four) each were effective in a half of action.

Christina O'Beck, Rachel Whitelegge (three steals), Ellie Reid and Sydney Kohlenberger all added goals for the Sailors, who got some breathing room late in the second quarter.

Whitelegge scored near-side from the left with 1:48 left in the half, giving the Sailors a 5-3 advantage. Then Kohlenberger scored on a lob from the left with 11 seconds left, helping the Sailors earn a 6-3 halftime edge.

El Toro earned a six-on-five chance just before halftime, but Coach Brett McCleave told his players to hold the ball. That seemed to backfire, though, when Fults won the sprint to start the third quarter, allowing the Sailors to get back to even strength.

Then it was Newport Harbor's Chanel Schilling earning an exclusion inside. Fults put the shot away, and suddenly the Sailors were up, 7-3. O'Beck earned her goal on a strong turn and shot at two meters, then Fults added another power play goal with 1:33 left in the third quarter.

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