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Girls' Water Polo: Sailors' slide continues

Newport Harbor fails to defend Sunset League title, will likely continue Division 1 fall as playoffs loom.

February 12, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High's Christina O'Beck fires a backhand shot for a goal between Los Alamitos' Sarah Siepker (3) and Corrina Toledo (7) during Sunset League action at Newport Harbor on Wednesday.
Newport Harbor High's Christina O'Beck fires… (Don Leach, Daily…)

The Los Alamitos High girls' water polo team seemed to be full of surprises Wednesday night.

Coach Dave Carlson surprised some at the game, publicly saying for the first time that he plans to step down as Griffins girls' coach after 15 years.

In the water, the Griffins also surprised host Newport Harbor by staying in a hard press defense virtually the whole time.

And Los Alamitos used it to produce another surprise, a 6-5 upset victory that gives the Griffins their first Sunset League title in three seasons. Newport Harbor, the two-time defending league champion, finishes in second place for just the second time since joining the league in 2006.

Now the only possible surprise for the Sailors, ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division 1, is how far they will drop when the playoff brackets are released Sunday at 9 a.m.

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Newport Harbor (19-7, 4-1 in league), which was ranked No. 2 in CIF just two weeks ago, appears likely to drop to No. 6. That would mean a possible quarterfinal showdown with its Back Bay rival, No. 3 CdM, and a harder path to the championship match.

Los Alamitos (19-8, 5-0), ranked No. 7, seems likely to move up to either No. 4 or 5 as Sunset League champion. Since CIF rules prohibit the top two teams in a league from being on the same side of the bracket, Newport Harbor would drop to No. 6.

Give credit to Carlson's Griffins, who appear to be peaking as the playoffs loom.

"I think we have a really good press defense," Carlson said. "The girls are in really good condition, and they're really mobile. A lot of teams will press, and at the first time of trouble they'll retreat into a zone. I was really proud of the girls for not doing that. For us to win this game, we were going to have to stay in a man-to-man defense. And our goalie made huge saves when we did have to zone."

Los Alamitos stayed in the press, even as Newport senior Christina O'Beck was hot early. She scored twice from center in the first quarter, countering goals by Los Al junior Sarah Seipker, and the teams were knotted at 2-2 after the quarter. Seipker finished with two goals and four steals.

But Los Al took a 4-2 lead into halftime, after sophomore Abbey Blake scored on a backhand from set and senior Ellia Weber skipped in a shot from outside.

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