The standard is high for the Newport Harbor High boys’ water polo team.
The Sailors appeared in control of Saturday’s nonleague home match against Coronado throughout, on their way to a 16-3 victory. But coach Ross Sinclair indicated that there is still much to work on early in the season for last year’s CIF Southern Section Division 1 finalist and CIF State SoCal Regional Division I champion.
“I don’t think we played particularly well,” Sinclair said after the Sailors improved to 2-0. “I don’t think we were in that much control, which was a little frustrating. There was a lot of little things defensively that we’ve been putting a major focus on the last few weeks of training. I don’t think we did a good job of that, so we’ll be able to go back and watch a lot of that on film, which will be nice.”
Senior center Ike Love and senior defender Reed Stemler each scored a match-high three goals for Newport Harbor, which will be without standout senior attacker Makoto Kenney for a while. Sinclair said that Kenney broke his left pinkie finger during Newport Harbor’s season-opening win at The Bishop’s School of La Jolla on Aug. 31, adding that he is unsure how long Kenney will be sidelined.
“I think everyone needs to focus more on what they can give to the team,” Stemler said. “We just need to all help out a little bit more, to fulfill that role that we’re missing. Everyone needs to step up just a little bit more.”
Newport Harbor played its second straight San Diego-area team to start the season, and younger players also made an impact against Coronado. Sophomores Billy Rankin and Richie Rimlinger each scored twice, as did freshman Ben Liechty.
Liechty, a left-hander who already stands 6-foot-2, assisted his junior brother Eli’s goal in the first quarter. The younger Liechty also provided a highlight goal late in the first half. He stole the ball from Coronado’s Hill Bosworth before making a quick backhand goal with one second left in the half, giving the Sailors a 6-2 halftime advantage.
“I feel pretty good,” Ben Liechty said after his second high school match. “It’s fun to play with my brother, and other people besides who I played with before.”
Senior goalkeeper Blake Jackson made nine saves for Newport Harbor through three quarters, and senior goalkeeper Trey Genova had a save in the fourth quarter. Junior Sam Allen, and sophomores Mason Hunt and Cole Borggreve all scored one goal each, as did Eli Liechty, who also drew three exclusions at center and two penalty shots.
Calvin Peckham scored twice to lead Coronado, and Peter Olson added a goal.
Newport Harbor has two challenging matches next week. The Sailors play at last year’s Division 2 champion Foothill on Tuesday at 4 p.m. The Sailors then have a primetime match at Mater Dei on Friday at 7 p.m.
Newport Harbor’s nonleague win over Mater Dei last year was the Sailors’ first since 2009. The Sailors didn’t face the Monarchs again last season. Mater Dei finished sixth in Division 1 last year.
“I’m really excited,” Stemler said. “Against Mater Dei, it’s always tough, but I think we got it.”