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Girls' Water Polo: Breakers capture CIF championship

Newport Harbor challenges Fischer-led Laguna Beach, but falls in Division 1 title match for second straight year.

March 01, 2014|By Matt Szabo
(SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

IRVINE — The Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team played Laguna Beach four times this season, saving the best for last.

The Sailors did not roll over in Saturday afternoon's CIF Southern Section Division 1 title match. They came out aggressive and pushed the Breakers like few teams have this season.

Newport Harbor badly wanted its sixth Division 1 title.

But Makenzie Fischer helped deliver Laguna Beach its first.

The junior had five goals and five steals as the top-seeded Breakers won, 10-7, at Woollett Aquatics Center.

Laguna Beach (30-1), which ends its season on a program-record 21-match winning streak, could not be stopped. Fischer, a U.S. senior national team player whose team had been knocked out of the playoffs by Newport Harbor the last two years, did not let it happen again.

"She was amazing," Laguna Beach Coach Ethan Damato said. "I really thought that she willed us to victory today, especially offensively. She's a special player, you know? She's going to make big plays."

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At the start of the game, it was the seventh-seeded Sailors (23-8) who were making plays. Juniors Ellie Reid and Chanel Schilling each drew exclusions on Newport Harbor's first two possessions. Senior Heidi Fults scored on the second power play, assisted by Kate Pipkin, to give the Sailors the early advantage.

Newport Harbor added another six-on-five strike, this time by Reid, to tie the score at 2-2 after a quarter. And the Sailors were down just 5-3 at halftime. Schilling, a center who drew three exclusions and continued her strong postseason play, beat a double-team to score with 54 seconds left in the second quarter.

"I'm happy we took the fight to them," Sailors Coach Bill Barnett said. "It wasn't a pushover. The game plan was to come out and attack, attack, attack … I didn't think our ball handling was as good as it could have been at times. We threw the ball away a lot in key situations."

The Breakers scored four of the first five goals of the second half, taking a 9-4 advantage when freshman Bella Baldridge scored a counterattack goal. Makenzie Fischer scored twice in the run, including on a five-meter penalty shot that she drew.

"I thought I played pretty well," said Fischer, who finished the season with 130 goals scored and set a program single-season record with 75 steals. "But there's always things you can improve on. It wasn't perfect. I field blocked two shots into the cage."

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