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Girls' Water Polo: Sailors settle for second

Newport Harbor challenges Laguna Beach before falling in Holiday Cup title game. CdM finishes strong third.

January 04, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High's Kate Pipkin sets up to take a shot against Foothill's Dani Ayala during a semifinal match of the Holiday Cup on Saturday.
Newport Harbor High's Kate Pipkin sets up to take… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

A shocking development took place Saturday afternoon at Newport Harbor High.

For the first time in three years, the Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar girls' water polo teams did not meet each other in a high school tournament.

The teams that have met in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title match the last two years did not face off in this weekend's Holiday Cup. Yet the Sailors and Sea Kings each found positives to the first tournament of their season, after winning three out of four games.

Newport Harbor advanced to the title match before losing to tournament favorite Laguna Beach, 11-8, on Saturday at Newport Harbor High. And CdM bounced back from a tough semifinal loss to the Breakers to beat Foothill, 6-3, in the third-place match.

"I was very pleased with our performance," Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett said. "I thought it was a very good tournament for us, and for Corona."

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After rallying from a two-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to stun Foothill, 4-3, in the semifinals, Newport Harbor (7-2) hung tough for nearly the whole game against Laguna Beach (9-0). The Sailors took a 6-5 lead early in the second half on a power-play goal by senior Heidi Fults. The Breakers scored four unanswered goals, but Newport Harbor answered with a goal by Ellie Reid, then a penalty shot score from Fults (drawn by Kate Pipkin) early in the fourth quarter.

That made it 9-8, Laguna Beach, but the Sailors could not score again. Laguna junior Makenzie Fischer, who has played recently with the U.S. women's senior national team, did not have that problem.

Fischer scored to give the Breakers a two-goal cushion. Then she struck again, off a foul just outside of five meters, with 1:42 left in the game. Barnett protested loudly that the foul shouldn't have been called, but Laguna was on its way to claiming its first Holiday Cup title in program history.

Fischer finished with five goals, two steals and four exclusions drawn. The scary thought for the Breakers' competition is that Coach Ethan Damato called Fischer's little sister Aria, a freshman who did not play in the Holiday Cup due to having her tonsils taken out, the team's second-best offensive option. Laguna also is currently missing sophomore Mia Salvini, a transfer from Mater Dei who is not yet eligible.

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