Taylor Smith’s six goals lead Newport Harbor over CdM
Returning to the pool was reason enough to get excited, and then Newport Harbor water polo coach Ross Sinclair woke up Thursday and reminded himself that he had two games to get ready for.
The availability of athletic facilities is at a premium this school year due to the return of high school sports being delayed by the coronavirus, which resulted in boys’ and girls’ water polo being packaged together in the first of two seasons for sports laid out by the CIF State office.
Newport Harbor opened the season by hosting its crosstown rival Corona del Mar, and at the end of the evening, the Sailors had completed the sweep.
Taylor Smith scored six goals to lead Newport Harbor to a 14-6 win over CdM in the girls’ water polo Battle of the Bay game.
“I was telling the boys and the girls, there’s a lot of firsts that are going to happen,” Sinclair said. “The first game in a long time, the first time that the Battle of the Bay has had a doubleheader with boys and girls, first time we’ve played high school water polo games in March.
“The list goes on and on, and for me, it was the first time coaching the boys and girls in the same season at the same time on the same night, and it was fun.”
Smith said the team had only been practicing with contact for a matter of days, and she had some nervous energy as she entered the pool for her first contest of the season.
“Definitely a lot of nerves in that first quarter,” Smith said. “I kind of felt sick to my stomach at some points, but then you kind of just get used to it, and you finally feel that normality that you did before last season. It just all comes back.
“I think it just took time kind of getting used to being in the pool and playing because we haven’t been high-speed like that, playing another team, for 12 months now.”
Morgan Netherton and Lily Gess each had three goals for the Sailors, while Avery Montiel and Paige Naegle each scored once. Anna Reed had nine saves as the starting goalkeeper, and Madi Swart stopped three shots in relief.
While there were limitations placed on spectators for the game, Olivia Giolas, a USC-bound senior for the Sailors, said it was not difficult to get motivated.
“It wasn’t really that hard,” Giolas said. “Just the thought of playing and being able to play with my team. Being a senior, I knew that I had unfinished business here and that I had to finish off on a high note with … my best friends.
“Instantly, being on the pool deck, feeling the environment, watching the boys play, getting warmed up, right from the get-go, I was ready to go, and I think the whole team was.”
Kaity Greenwald caught fire for the Sea Kings in the fourth quarter, scoring three of her team-high four goals.
“I feel very fortunate,” Greenwald said of having an abbreviated season. “It’s a little surreal, just having this much time off. I haven’t had this much time off since I started water polo when I was 7, so it’s definitely something I never expected to happen, and I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to play and just get in, play with my friends and have a good season.”
Kate Rodman and Makena Macedo each added one goal for CdM.
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