Laguna Beach, Newport Harbor girls’ water polo teams finish with strong wins at Newport Invitational
The Laguna Beach High girls’ water polo team was oh-so close to making the championship match of the Newport Invitational tournament on Saturday.
Like, one second away.
But Aileen Shin of The Bishop’s School of La Jolla scored at the fourth-quarter buzzer of Saturday morning’s semifinal, and the Breakers eventually lost 13-12 in overtime.
They quickly fell behind by three goals to Santa Barbara San Marcos in the tournament third-place match — including a rare six-on-three goal by the Royals. Playing without one of their top offensive threats, it looked like it could be pack-it-in time.
Laguna Beach instead rallied for an impressive 8-7 victory, finishing third in the Newport Invitational.
Host Newport Harbor placed fifth after beating Mater Dei 13-8 in the fifth-place match.
The Breakers (17-7) finished the tournament on a positive note after also notching a 10-9 win over top-ranked Foothill in the quarterfinals Friday. Foothill came back to win the Newport Invitational, beating The Bishop’s School 13-7 in the title match.
“Our biggest motivation, I feel like, was playing for each other,” said Laguna senior goalkeeper Lauren Schneider, who had 15 saves in the loss to Bishop’s and 11 saves in the victory over San Marcos. “That’s why our team is so good. Selflessness is so important on our team ... It’s usually not one person scoring.”
Talented junior Ava Knepper was struck in the face in the second half of the semifinal match, Laguna Beach coach Claire Sonne said. Knepper went to the hospital to get checked out and missed the third-place match.
But other Breakers stepped up against San Marcos. Senior center Charlotte Riches led with three goals while Jordan Schneider, Sophie Colladay, Cleo Washer, Presley Jones and Kara Carver had one goal each.
Jordan Schneider scored the eventual match-winning goal, a cross-cage lob with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter. And the team also got good one-on-one defense from Washer, who helped keep Royals senior standout Ava Stryker scoreless.
Riches led with five goals against Bishop’s, and rising sophomore Jones scored four.
“Yes, it was really hard this morning, but it was kind of a motivator,” Riches said. “We knew that we wanted to finish this tournament out strong, so I think we kind of channeled our anger and frustration from that game in the right direction.”
The Breakers finish Surf League play next week, with matches against Huntington Beach on Tuesday and league-leading Los Alamitos on Thursday.
Newport Harbor (19-7), meanwhile, finished the tournament with two wins Saturday after suffering two losses Friday.
Junior center Ryan Chalupnik led with five goals, while senior Chiara Amoroso had three. Sophomore Harper Price chipped in two goals and three assists, while senior goalkeeper Anna Reed made 10 saves.
“It’s just about having our energy up the whole time, thinking about mental strength,” Amoroso said. “At tournaments like this, we can’t have time to prep to play these teams ahead of time, so it’s more about getting mentally prepared and always having our energy up ... After the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions win, we didn’t have the same amount of focus, but we realized we needed to maintain that to continue to win.”
Chalupnik scored six goals in a 12-6 win over Carlsbad earlier Saturday in a fifth-place semifinal match. Chloe Rizof added two goals.
The Sailors close out the regular season with their final league game at Los Alamitos on Tuesday.
CdM finishes third at Irvine SoCal Championships
Corona del Mar placed third at the other major tournament happening this weekend, the Irvine Southern California Championships.
The Sea Kings ended with a pair of wins Saturday, topping Santa Margarita 11-6 to finish second in their group before dispatching Riverside King, 10-7, in the third-place match at Foothill High.
The wins perhaps solidified a spot in the Open Division playoffs for CdM, which improved to 16-8 this season.
Sophomore center Reagan Weir paced CdM with four goals against Santa Margarita, while seniors Makena Macedo and Aubrie Anderson scored three goals each. Senior goalkeeper Sarah Decker made seven saves.
Weir, Jillian Schlom and Didi Evans all scored two goals in the win over King, and Emily Cloherty led with four steals. Anderson had a goal, four assists and three steals.
Orange Lutheran won the tournament championship, notching an 8-4 win over Los Alamitos in the final.
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