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Girls' Water Polo: Sea Kings stunned in epic game

CdM can't hold lead late in regulation or overtime, and season ends in CIF quarterfinal loss to Santa Barbara.

February 22, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Corona del Mar High's Maddie Musselman is chased by Santa Barbara's Jessee Ransone, left, and Erin McGeoy (9) as she takes a shot and scores in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs at CdM.
Corona del Mar High's Maddie Musselman is chased… (Don Leach, Daily…)

The last time that the Corona del Mar High girls' water polo team played Santa Barbara, CdM sophomore Maddie Musselman burned the Dons.

She scored five goals in the Irvine Southern California Championships quarterfinal game Feb. 7, matching Santa Barbara's total by herself.

Santa Barbara Coach Mark Walsh dedicated more defensive attention to Musselman in the second meeting Saturday, in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal game at CdM.

Musselman still almost killed the Dons. Her third goal, off a foul, gave CdM a one-goal lead with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Walsh called timeout. His team found a way to battle back, as senior Jessica Gaffney scored a rebound goal with four seconds left to send it to overtime.

Santa Barbara again battled back in overtime after falling behind by two goals. That was a common theme in the classic, back-and-forth struggle. The Dons finally were rewarded.

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Sophomore Jessie Brummett scored a six-on-five goal from up top with 31 seconds left in sudden-death overtime, as Santa Barbara completed a stunning 10-9 upset victory that ended the No. 3-seeded Sea Kings' season.

The Back Bay CIF semifinal game was denied. Instead, it is Santa Barbara (20-9) that moves on to play Newport Harbor in the semifinals on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Irvine's Woollett Aquatics Center. Top-seeded Laguna Beach plays Los Alamitos in the second semifinal at 7 p.m.

"These girls have a lot of heart," Walsh said after his team earned its second straight semifinal appearance. "They're not going to the biggest colleges, but they played hard and they played as a team.

"For the most part, our defense was great all game. They're so difficult to defend with Maddie on the one-two side. She can draw fouls at five [meters], she can get open on drives, she can post up. You have to basically commit two players to her, and their center [Marina Coskinas] is so good, you have to commit two girls to her. A lot of times we had to leave girls wide open and hope they missed, or hope our goalie made a save. They have so many good players, you have to kind of pick your poison. Last time we played them, Maddie went off and scored a bunch, so we tried to make somebody else beat us ... We committed a second girl to Maddie this time much more than we did the previous time."

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