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Girls' Water Polo: Smith-led Mesa bests Eagles yet again

Junior scores nine for Mustangs, who continue absolute dominance in Battle for the Bell.

January 15, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • COSTA MESA, CA, January 15, 2014 -- Costa Mesa High's Lauren Smith (18) scores on a penalty shot during the first half against Estancia in an Orange Coast League game on Wednesday. (Kevin Chang/ Daily Pilot)
COSTA MESA, CA, January 15, 2014 -- Costa Mesa High's… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Costa Mesa High junior Lauren Smith likes to be a team player in girls' water polo, setting up her teammates.

When needed, though, she definitely can take matters into her own hands. When the ball left Smith's hand on Wednesday, it usually went right into the back of the net.

She scored a career-high nine goals to help the Mustangs breeze past Estancia, 14-4, in the Battle for the Bell game at Costa Mesa High.

Costa Mesa has never lost the bell game to Estancia in girls' water polo. The Mustangs weren't about to have that streak broken in the Orange Coast League opener for both schools, not with Smith's hot shooting.

"I knew that I had to step up today, just because it's our rivalry game," said Smith, who also led all players with seven steals. "We wanted to really come out with a punch. Me stepping up gets the other girls more pumped, so they want to play harder. That's what I'm all about, getting the other girls involved, not just offensively but defensively as well."

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The Eagles (3-6) stayed in the game in the first half, even after junior Melissa Folkerts and senior Devon Christensen scored the game's first two goals for the Mustangs (8-11). Nikkie Blinn, one of just two seniors for Estancia, answered with a hard outside shot from the right side to keep the visitors close.

Costa Mesa took a 5-1 lead late in the first half before Estancia junior Alexis Discenzo scored from two meters with nine seconds left in the half.

In the second half, however, the Mustangs wore the Eagles down with their counterattack.

Blinn scored again from about seven meters late in the third quarter, trimming the lead to 8-4. But from there, the Mustangs scored the game's final six goals. Five of those were scored by Smith, who scored three of her goals on penalty shots that she drew.

Costa Mesa seems to get big individual performances in the rivalry game. Last year, it was then-senior Kellie Thorsness who scored eight goals in Costa Mesa's 20-4 victory.

Estancia's first-year coach Amber Peters, a program alumna who graduated in 2009, saw her team fade a bit after the intermission on Wednesday.

"The first and second quarter, we really held on nice and strong," Peters said. "The third quarter, they started getting a little tired ... [but] they really played competitive all the way to the end. I'm really proud of them. This is a better score than we've seen [against Costa Mesa] in a couple of years.

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