Newport Harbor girls’ water polo bows out in regional semifinals

Newport Harbor goalie Lydia Soderberg (1), shown making a save earlier this season.
Newport Harbor goalie Lydia Soderberg (1), shown making a save earlier this season, had eight saves and three steals for the Sailors on Friday night.
(James Carbone)

The CIF State Southern California Regional Division I girls’ water polo tournament fell during “ski week” in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

This presented a unique challenge for Newport Harbor. Not only did the Sailors have to gear up for another tournament after falling by a goal to eventual champion Orange Lutheran in the CIF Southern Section Open Division semifinals, but they were unable to head out of town during their week of vacation.

“If they wanted to get in and splash around, have some fun, they had the option,” coach Ross Sinclair said. “We didn’t have any practice, though ... We had put all of our eggs in one basket for [the Open Division title]. To do it again is something that’s really difficult to do.”


Newport Harbor was competitive for a half but lost to Orange Lutheran 9-1 in a Southern California Regional Division I semifinal match Friday night at Mt. San Antonio College, ending the Sailors’ season.

Orange Lutheran (31-0) finished off a perfect season with its 8-4 win over Mater Dei in the regional final on Saturday.

Newport Harbor's Sofia Del Villar (12) scored for the Sailors in Friday night's loss to Orange Lutheran.
Newport Harbor’s Sofia Del Villar (12), shown earlier this season, scored for the Sailors in Friday night’s loss to Orange Lutheran.
(James Carbone)

The Sailors were nearly shut out in the regional semifinal, with senior Sofia Del Villar scoring the team’s only goal with 1:08 left in the contest. Freshman Valery Verdugo had the assist.

“Their goalie [Kyla Pranajaya] is good, but I thought we made her look really, really, really good today,” Sinclair said. “We threw the ball at her about eight or nine times, so that makes it easy for her to do her job.”

Newport Harbor (19-10) did battle throughout a bizarre first half which saw just one total goal scored — Orange Lutheran’s Jailynn Robinson netted it on the counterattack in the final minute. But the Lancers could not convert four power-play chances in the half.

Sailors junior goalkeeper Lydia Soderberg made three player-down blocks before junior Harper Price came up with a steal on the fourth possession.

“I just think our first half really showed our defensive skill,” Soderberg said. “I didn’t think that half was going to happen, but it really set the game for us and gave us a lot of energy and fight. I was definitely more pumped up.”

Robinson ended up leading Orange Lutheran with three goals, while Allison Cohen and Samantha Kim each scored twice.

Of the Sailors’ 10 losses this season, Friday’s result was the only defeat by more than two goals.

Newport Harbor will lose seven seniors — including key contributors like senior center Ryan Chalupnik, Del Villar and Angelena Peterson — but will begin to rebuild for next year.

“We had a very new group, a couple of freshmen playing, sophomores,” Soderberg said. “This was my first CIF ever, and it was a big step up for me as well. I thought it was a great experience, and I hope to come back next year and do even better.”