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Harrington, Kapana share time, talent

Daily Pilot High School Athletes of the Week

It's pick your poison with Newport Harbor goalies, who both had a sparkling tournament in Santa Barbara.

January 23, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High goalies Carlee Kapana, left, and Cleo Harrington are co-Daily Pilot High School Athletes of the Week.
Newport Harbor High goalies Carlee Kapana, left, and… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Get Newport Harbor High senior Cleo Harrington and junior Carlee Kapana together out of the water, and they are prone to fits of giggling.

They play off each other well, which certainly is also true in the water for the Sailors' girls water polo team.

The consensus in the water polo community is that they're the top two goalies in the CIF Southern Section, which by extension could make them the top two prep girls' goalies in the country.

It's a nice problem for Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett to have, except that it's not a problem at all. Last summer, Barnett started instituting a very simple rotation.

The Harvard-bound Harrington, last year's Newport-Mesa Co-Player of the Year, plays in the first half. Kapana plays in the second half. Barnett said he had never done such a rotation as a coach, but the results spoke for themselves.

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"It seemed to work out well," Barnett said. "So we just kept doing it."

That's unfortunate for opponents of the Sailors (13-3), who play host to top-ranked Laguna Beach in a key nonleague game on Friday. Newport has established itself as the No. 2-ranked team in Division 1 after finishing second at both the Holiday Cup and last weekend's Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

The second-place finish in Santa Barbara meant the team got two all-tournament team selections, and Barnett gave them to his two goalies. It was hard to argue after they combined for 54 saves through the team's four games. Now, they earn co-Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week honors.

Harrington also made two penalty-shot blocks in Santa Barbara, while Kapana made a couple of breathtaking saves from close range in the second half of the final against Laguna Beach. The blocks came against rising Laguna junior Makenzie Fischer.

"I actually thought we got a lot of great looks in the second half in transition, but Carlee Kapana was Carlee Kapana," Breakers Coach Ethan Damato said after the game. "She blocked a ton of shots ... Carlee was insane in the second half."

The insane thing might be that this rotation seems to be thriving, which seems to say a lot about the character of Harrington, the team captain. Barnett called her "a trooper." After all, she had been the starting goalie the past two years, helping Newport win the Division 1 title as a sophomore and return to the title match as a junior.

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