Boys’ Water Polo: Newport Harbor falls to El Toro


LAKE FOREST — A potential game-tying shot ricocheted off the post with one second left to provide frustration for the Newport Harbor High boys’ water polo team, while giving confidence to El Toro.

The final buzzer sounded and the Chargers earned a huge comeback victory, an upset, while the Sailors were left with learning a lesson the hard way.

El Toro used strong momentum to rally for an 11-10 nonleague win in its pool Saturday. The Chargers outscored Newport Harbor, 8-4, in the second half, including 4-1 in the third quarter.


Coach Robert Lynn said his Sailors (14-3), ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division 1, showed a lack of discipline. El Toro (12-5), ranked No. 9 in Division 1, showed strong defense and rode a sparkling effort from senior Joey Colton, who scored a game-high six goals.

Colton, who said he is deciding between Princeton or Harvard, stepped up in the fourth quarter, which featured a wild finish. He scored what proved to be the game-winning goal, a shot from about 10 meters out that he skipped into the cage with 1:23 left.

Lynn later called timeout with 59 seconds remaining to try to set up a play. But Christian Ampe came up with a steal out of the timeout. Lynn reacted with anger, slamming his hat to the deck.

El Toro ran down the clock to 20 seconds left, but was called for a kickout when a player shot after the shot clock had ran out. El Toro Coach Brett McCleave complained and was issued a yellow card. An El Toro fan challenged the official who warned McCleave and questioned her decision to assess a yellow card to the El Toro coach. The official asked for the fan to leave the game and would not resume play until he left the pool deck.

With a power-play situation, Lynn called another timeout. Newport Harbor didn’t attack to create a shot against a sagging defense, Lynn said, and depended on the final outside shot that bounced off the post.

“This is a lesson for us,” Lynn said. “I’m going to take this as a good lesson for us. It’s going to get us to work harder for the rest of the year. I think we have a group of guys capable of doing something good in CIF. It’s just about keeping the focus and concentrating and keeping them disciplined.”

Newport Harbor, which won the S&R Sport Cup last week and had won six in a row, built a 6-2 lead with three minutes left in the first half.

But Colton scored his first goal with just under two minutes left in the second quarter to cut into the lead. Then came El Toro’s 4-1 run in the third quarter, when Colton scored twice.

Dan Stevens scored early in the fourth quarter to give Newport Harbor an 8-7 lead, but El Toro went on a 3-0 run to go up 10-8. Colton scored two goals and also provided an assist during the spurt.

“This win shows the character of our team and it shows the talent of the team,” Colton said. “And it shows that we are up there with the elite teams. There is a lot of talent on this team. We have a great group of guys.”

Stevens, who led Newport with three goals, served up an assist for Mitchell Mendoza with 3:15 left, and he had another assist with 1:39 remaining, when Blake Grove scored to make it, 10-10.

El Toro Coach Brett McCleave said he learned a great deal from Lynn while being coached by him for club in Long Beach and on the U.S. national team. This time it was Lynn’s team that learned from McCleave.

“Huge,” McCleave said of the win. “It’s nice to get this one, especially against Newport.”

Twitter: @SteveVirgen