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Hyham leaves big legacy for Huntington Beach girls’ water polo

Huntington Beach’s Marina Hyham blocks a shot by Los Alamitos at Newport Harbor High School on Wedne
Marina Hyham, shown in action on Jan. 31, finished her four-year varsity career with 907 saves for the Huntington Beach High girls’ water polo team.
(Drew A. Kelley)

The number is almost too large to comprehend.

Coming into Huntington Beach High as a freshman, Marina Hyham had no idea that she would rack up 907 saves as a four-year varsity goalkeeper for the girls’ water polo team.

“It’s absolutely crazy,” Hyham said. “I didn’t think it would be anything close to that.”

According to the CIF Southern Section record book, the total is third in section history. Meghan Rowland of Corona Santiago (1,114 saves from 2009-12) and Stephanie Peckham of Santa Margarita (1,015 saves from 2004-07) hold the top two spots.

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Hyham’s high school career ended Tuesday when the Oilers (15-9) were edged by Santa Margarita 8-7 in a CIF Southern Section Division 2 wild-card match. She will continue her water polo career at Marist College in New York.

Hyham and her older sister Kali were part of a culture change during their high school years. Coach Mark Canner, in his fifth year in charge for the Oilers, said he first coached Marina when she was a 12-year-old playing up with the 14-and-under team for Huntington Beach Water Polo Club.

The 14U team at the time consisted of the 2017 graduating class at the high school. Kali Hyham, Ally Long, Lauren Smith, Bella Vucurevic and Anna Borton all went on to play college water polo, just like Marina and Oilers center Maddie Bockman are this year. Bockman is headed to UC San Diego.

Marina Hyham, a second-team Daily Pilot Dream Team selection as a junior, has developed into a top talent in goal. She made 212 saves this season for the Oilers.

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“Starting as a freshman, it’s been a long time and we’ve done a lot of great things,” she said. “I have to give a lot of credit to Mark. We have overcome so much. I know we didn’t beat Newport or Los Al these last two years, but he’s literally coached us from the bottom to the top. Him producing some top Division 1 players now is really, really fun.”

The Oilers finished third in the Sunset League the last two years behind the Sailors and Griffins. And they failed to register a postseason win during Hyham’s time in the program, falling in close wild-card matches each of the last three years.

But this is a big change. Gone are the days when Huntington Beach would be embarrassed in league.

“As an athlete, you always want to leave a program better than when you got to it,” Canner said. “Marina did that, not only for the high school but for Huntington Beach Water Polo Club. She’s just a great kid, comes from a great family, and she’s just been a huge part of everything that we’ve done.”

Newport Harbor’s Sandberg commits to Navy

Newport Harbor High senior Max Sandberg will enter the U.S. Naval Academy and play water polo for Navy, his mother Sue confirmed Friday.

Sandberg, a goalkeeper, was the Sunset League MVP and a first-team Daily Pilot Dream Team honoree this past fall for the Sailors. He finished the season with 236 saves, helping Newport Harbor win the Sunset League title and advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals, as well as the final of the inaugural CIF Southern California Regional Division 1 playoffs.

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

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