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Girls' Water Polo: CdM puts it together

Balanced attack helps Sea Kings beat Sailors for third place at SoCal Championships, which could have major CIF seeding implications.

February 08, 2014|By Matt Szabo
(SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

IRVINE — Every tournament, Corona del Mar High girls' water polo sophomore goalie Heidi Ritner seems to get better and better.

There are some other, more well-publicized goalies out there in CIF this year, including two across the Back Bay. But that's fine with CdM Coach Ross Sinclair.

"She's right in the mix with them," Sinclair said. "We're happy to have her."

The girls across the bay aren't going to argue that point, either.

"I think it's kind of a bummer that she's almost flying under the radar," Newport Harbor senior Christina O'Beck said. "I think she's one of the top goalies in CIF, hands down ... She just seems to keep getting better each game, too. We already noticed a difference between today and when we played them in Santa Barbara."

Ritner shined in the Sea Kings' third meeting of the year with rival Newport Harbor, on Saturday afternoon in the third-place match of the Irvine Southern California Championships. This one might have been the most important yet.

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Ritner, an all-tournament team selection, made six saves and anchored a strong CdM defense as the Sea Kings won, 5-4, at Woollett Aquatics Center. With a week left in the regular season, the victory could be a precursor to CdM moving up a spot to No. 3 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll. Newport Harbor could get bumped down two spots to No. 4 when the new poll is released Monday.

Why is that important? Because nobody wants to be on the same side of the draw as top-ranked Laguna Beach, which won the tournament title over Foothill, 10-3.

"I guess third," Sinclair said when asked where he would rank his team in Division 1. "You never know ... I would say third. I guess that seems like a fair statement. It's tough."

CdM sophomore Maddie Musselman joined Ritner as the Sea Kings' two all-tournament team selections. Newport Harbor goalies Cleo Harrington and Carlee Kapana shared tournament Most Outstanding Goalie honors, while O'Beck and senior Heidi Fults also were on the all-tournament team.

CdM (20-4) has been consistent, if nothing else. The Sea Kings finished third in all three regular-season tournaments this season. The effort was there from the beginning in the third-place match against the Sailors (19-6), the rubber match as the teams split their two earlier meetings.

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