HUNTINGTON BEACH — Every week, Corona del Mar High girls’ water polo Coach Aaron Chaney gives his team a quote of the week.
This week, they’ve had several. One of the ones delivered Friday afternoon was “One finger cannot lift a pebble,” an old Hopi Indian saying.
“They understood what it meant,” Chaney said after he got a total team effort, with goals from four different players in a 4-3 win over Edison in the CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinals at Golden West College.
Seniors Claire Eadington and Margot Money, sophomore Pippa Saunders and freshman Ally McCormick all scored for CdM, who will play Back Bay rival Newport Harbor in the semifinals Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Irvine High.
This year’s CdM team has no dominant goal-scoring machine, yet the Sea Kings (21-8) still made it to at least the semifinals for the 10th straight year under Chaney.
“I talked to them about the tradition of this program,” he said. “They should always feel proud to play for this team. The tradition of excellence has always carried us through the big games ... This is a big accomplishment for these girls. We lost a lot of people from last year.”
The third-seeded Sea Kings had to hold on at the end after surging to a 4-1 lead early in the fourth quarter on a counterattack goal from Money off a pass from Eadington. It was the second counterattack goal of the game for CdM; McCormick gave the Sea Kings a 2-1 lead off a strong counter from McCormick in the second quarter.
Edison freshman Melissa Balding and sophomore Alys Williams scored fourth-quarter goals to bring Edison within one, and the Chargers (22-7) got a six-on-five chance with 26 seconds to go.
But, after a timeout, Williams’ straightaway shot from five meters was just wide left and CdM ran out the clock.
“We were all just encouraging each other [in the timeout], like ‘This is our game,’ ” Saunders said. “We came so far. We were up three goals so we were not going to let them back in right at the very last minute.”
Edison, had defeated CdM for the first time ever, 8-4, in the quarterfinals at the Irvine Southern California Championships on Feb. 5. But Friday, the Chargers finished just one for eight on the player-advantage. Chaney called that stat amazing, considering CdM’s five-on-six defense has been an area of concern.
“Five-on-six defense was our nemesis all week long,” he said. “Our second string was killing us in six-on-five in practice. Our second string was scoring 80 or 90% goals on us [on player-advantage] this week in practice. We were just bad, horrible, so we talked about it.”
Edison Coach Diggy Riley agreed that the Sea Kings’ five-on-six defense was a big factor.
“[Shots] just hit them in the arms,” Riley said. “That’s the difference right there, nothing else. It’s a shame but give them all the credit. They knocked the shots down.”
CdM senior Victoria Kent had two steals and sophomore goalie Alex Musselman had seven saves and three steals.
Defense from Eadington and Money helped hold UC Irvine-bound senior Danielle Warde and Williams, the Chargers’ top two scorers, to just one combined goal.
“I think that we all knew we could beat them,” Eadington said. “We just really wanted this, and I think it showed.”