Girls water polo: Newport sinks El Toro, 10-4

Steve Virgen

LAKE FOREST - Not even the flu was going to keep sophomore Jessica

Ball from playing at El Toro Friday morning. Not when some of the Sailors

still felt aches from last year's 7-6 loss in five overtime periods to

the Chargers in the CIF Division I quarterfinals. Not when Newport (8-2)

is trying to shake off early-season struggles.

Ball, who was the only freshman on last year's squad, scored a

game-high four goals, while junior Jenna Murphy's left-handed skills kept

El Toro (7-1) off balance, which led to a 10-4 nonleague win, the

Chargers' first loss of the season.

"I just played with everything I had," said Ball, who has been

battling the flu the past three days. "I definitely wanted in this game.

I thought if we would win, I wanted to be a part of it."

Ball scored two goals and dished out two assists to help the Sailors

build a 7-0 lead before halftime. Eighty-four seconds after senior

Katherine Belden drew a penalty and converted the four-meter shot for a

1-0 lead, Ball came up with a steal and found senior Amber Braly for a

breakaway goal. Ball also set up Murphy for the first of her two goals

for a 5-0 lead with 4:56 left in the first half, then Ball scored two

goals to close out the second quarter.

"(Ball) was working hard," said Newport Coach Bill Barnett, who also

thought Murphy's intensity was a difference-maker. "This is a big win for

us considering the way we had been struggling."

Barnett was also impressed with his defense that held the Chargers,

who went 2 for 6 on player-advantage situations, scoreless in the first

half. Newport senior goalie Leah Grocki keyed the defense, stopping 10

shots.

"I thought this would be a much closer game," Barnett said. "Maybe (El

Toro is) going through the same thing we were going through."

Though the Sailors were 0 for 2 on player-advantage situations, they

made the most of their counterattacks, scoring four goals after steals

and two goals after saves by Grocki. Junior Annie Wight's steal in the

second period led to a highlight-type fast break. After the steal, Wight

fired a pass to a wide-open Ashley Parole, who then fed a touch-pass to

Paige Lansing for a one-on-one goal.

The Sailors continued to attack in the second half, scoring three

goals in the first three minutes to totally put the game away. Ball

started the run with an assist by Lansing. But El Toro answered with a

goal on the player-advantage with 5:20 left in the third period. However,

Newport scored two goals in 51 seconds. Wight threw one in and Ball

closed out the scoring after a pass from Wight.

"Newport is a better team than us right now, plain and simple," El

Toro Coach Don Stoll said. "They won every small battle and won the war."

The Sailors will return to action today at 5 p.m., playing at

Coronado.

Newport's junior varsity squad also defeated El Toro, 10-3. Sophomore

Carolyn Conway led the Sailors with seven goals, while freshman Anne

Belden added three goals. Tiffany Manderino contributed with five steals.

NONLEAGUE

Newport Harbor 10, El Toro 4

Newport Harbor 3 4 3 0 - 10

El Toro 0 0 1 3 - 4

Newport Harbor - Ball 4, Murphy 2, Belden 1, Lansing 1, Braly 1, Wight

1. Saves - Grocki 10.

El Toro - Carter 3, Heineck 1. Greenberg 5.

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