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Girls' Water Polo: Sailors return to final

Pipkin scores game-winner as Newport outlasts Santa Barbara, advancing to Division 1 title match for third straight year.

February 26, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High's Kate Pipkin shoots and scores the game-winning goal late in the game over the outstretched arm of Santa Barbara's Jessica Gaffney during a CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal game in Irvine on Wednesday.
Newport Harbor High's Kate Pipkin shoots and scores… (Don Leach, Daily…)

IRVINE — Newport Harbor High junior girls' water polo player Kate Pipkin got a little bit antsy on the sidelines Wednesday night at Woollett Aquatics Center.

Pipkin was excluded twice in the first quarter of the Sailors' CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal match against Santa Barbara. Sitting on the bench proved hard to take. Late in the third, she went swimming in the adjacent warm-up area, peering back into the game pool as the Sailors and Dons did battle.

"I was going nuts on the bench," Pipkin said. "Oh my God."

She re-entered the game for the start of the fourth quarter. A few minutes later, she made all of the Newport Harbor fans in the stands go nuts, too.

Pipkin scored the game-winning goal on a lob with 32 seconds left as the Sailors beat the Dons, 11-10, an another epic battle to advance to the Division 1 finals for the third straight year, and fourth time in five years.

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It wasn't decided until the final seconds, when Newport Harbor got a big save at the buzzer by junior goalie Carlee Kapana after a late turnover. But the No. 7 Sailors (23-7) move on to play top-seeded Laguna Beach in the championship match on Saturday back at Woollett, at a time to be announced.

Laguna got past No. 4-seeded Los Alamitos, 12-5, in the second semifinal Wednesday night.

Newport Coach Bill Barnett knows that the Breakers will be big favorites to win their first Division 1 title on Saturday. This wasn't really a concern to him after Wednesday's result. He has the Sailors a game away from capturing their sixth such crown.

"We'll show up," Barnett said of Saturday's match. "I'm just happy to be in the finals. You never know."

Pipkin, who led the Sailors with four goals, provided big plays late against the Dons. The same was true in the teams' previous meeting, when she again scored the game-winning goal in a Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions quarterfinal on Jan. 17.

The score was tied 6-6 entering the fourth quarter, when the teams started trading goals like heavyweight boxers trade uppercuts. Newport junior Chanel Schilling scored from set, but Indiana-bound Santa Barbara senior Anna Brummett answered on a lob from set.

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