The Battle of the Bay game is special in each sport, but in girls' lacrosse it's maybe just a bit more friendly.
The Newport Wedge girls' lacrosse program was started eight years ago by Lauren Mulvaney and the Davin family. Players from both Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor high schools have started playing there in middle school, before moving on to high school.
CdM Coach Aly Simons has coached both future Sea Kings and Sailors in the Wedge program. She and Newport Harbor Coach Matt Armstrong have a good working relationship. Simons said the Sea Kings and Sailors had a joint practice in December at Newport Harbor High.
"Even though we're competitors, in a lot of ways we're working together to develop Newport Beach lacrosse in general," Simons said.
Simons and Armstrong can be proud of the fact that both programs are currently ranked top 15 in Southern California by laxpower.com. In recent years, however, it has been CdM that has managed to come out on top in the Battle of the Bay game.
That continued Friday.
CdM senior captain Kacie Kline scored six goals and sophomore Payton Carter added four goals and two assists as CdM romped, 16-6, at home. It's the Sea Kings' fifth straight win in the rivalry game.
The problem after the game was that, for the third straight contest, Simons didn't know which of the Sea Kings deserved the game ball. It was a good problem to have as CdM (11-3) concluded a long week that saw the Sea Kings upset the state's top-ranked team, Foothill, on Monday before taking the long trip to win at Temecula Valley on Wednesday.
"It's been such a hectic week," Kline said. "These have all been decent teams that we've had to be ready for, but Battle of the Bay is so much different than all the other games. You can't go out to Battle of the Bay being like, 'Meh.' Everyone is so excited on the field, both sides. It's just good, clean fun for everyone."
The Sea Kings, who are ranked No. 6 in Southern California and are on a nine-game winning streak, certainly had fun. Kendall Mulvaney had three assists, and fellow senior captain Sabrina "Bean" Smith had two goals, one assist and one interception.
Kennedy Mulvaney also scored twice for the Sea Kings, and Mason Bendetti and Kennedy McGuinness each had a goal and an assist. Senior keeper Kate Allen made 10 saves, and senior captain Jamie Smith had four draw controls.
The game was close early. Carter, who led everyone with six ground balls, scored CdM's first two goals. But Newport Harbor (10-3) answered each time, first with a goal by Mia Bagiu then one by Rylie Siegfried with 15:51 left in the first half.
The visitors would not score again in the half. The determined Carter provided a funny moment when she briefly began running the wrong way after scooping up a ground ball. There was plenty to smile about for CdM after the Sea Kings scored the last seven goals of the half, taking a commanding 9-2 halftime lead.
Kline called Carter, who had three goals and two assists in the first half alone, "a bundle of energy."
"I just run," said Carter, a talented all-around athlete who clinched the girls' volleyball Battle of the Bay last fall with a service ace. "I don't know what to say. I just want to do it for [the seniors]. They've won [Battle of the Bay] all three years, and I just wanted to do it for them, their senior year. It's a fun game."
A running clock was used for much of the second half. The Sea Kings, whose solid defense was led by senior Katie Scott and junior Megan Rieden, led by as many as 11 goals. Simons inserted all of her seniors, a group also including Taryn Beaufort and Sofia Van Cleve, in the game's final minutes.
Siegfried (four draw controls) and Brittany McCoy each scored twice for Newport Harbor, which is also having a strong season as it is in second place in the Century/Sunset League. Junior Kim Comet led the team with four ground balls.
Senior goalie Cailynn Smethurst, a team captain and four-year varsity player, kept it competitive early and finished with 11 saves and an interception.
"She's a four-year senior and was really fired up for this game," Armstrong said. "She's really been on her game all season, but today for sure. In the first half she was really, really holding them off, keeping us in the game.
"We wanted it to be closer, for sure. They're a really strong team, really experienced team. Certainly they earned the 10-goal victory. I think we could have kept it closer, didn't pull it off today though."
CdM plays host to Woodbridge and University next week before a huge league game at Beckman on April 28. The Sea Kings beat the Patriots, 15-11, in the first league meeting.
Another win on the road in the second meeting would likely mean CdM's first-ever outright league title.
"It's one game at a time," Kline said. "We've gotten a lot more confident in ourselves on the field. After that Beckman win, we finally knew what our potential was. I think we're just playing to that level every game and coming out strongly, and it's so much more fun like that. Every single person is doing well."