Coach Jason Lynch figured it might take his Newport Water Polo Foundation 18-and-under boys' team time to adjust playing again with two players who just returned from Italy.
Chris Whitelegge and Farrel South joined Newport last week in preparation for the S&R Sport USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics, their first tournament with Newport since playing for the U.S. men's junior national team at an eight-team nation tournament.
In three days, Whitelegge and South have helped Newport reach the 11th place game at the Junior Olympics. Newport faces Long Beach Shore Aquatics today at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center at 10 a.m.
Newport split its two games on Monday, beating Stockton, 11-5, before losing to Rose Bowl, 8-5. Newport enters its final game at the tournament with a 4-2 record.
"We're doing ok. We got to the platinum level, the top 24," Lynch said. "The thing with the tournament is if you lose once, you're done advancing. Regency knocked us out of the top eight [contention after losing to Regency, 12-5, on Sunday]. We didn't play well."
Newport started the tournament with three straight victories. The team outscored opponents, 35-13, during the stretch.
"We had a pretty easy round the first three games, not a lot of competition, until we got into the Regency game," Lynch said. "We played a lot better [in our second loss]. It was close the whole time [against Rose Bowl].
"It's been good to have [Whitelegge and South] back. We're starting to gel as a team. It was rough learning how to play without them [at the California State High School Championships, where we placed third]."
Newport has three other boys' teams at the four-day Junior Olympics.
The 16-and-under team is playing for 13th place today against Clovis A at 2 p.m. at Los Altos High in Hacienda Heights. Newport improved to 4-3 after picking up a 13-8 victory against the NSD Stars Monday.
Lynch said Andrew Silvers and Preston Lee are playing well for the U16 team. Lynch expects the two incoming sophomores at Newport Harbor High to compete for playing time on varsity.
Newport's 14- and 12-and-under teams can finish 21st in their respective divisions today. Both of their games are at Flintridge Prep in La Canada.
The U14 team faces CVAC today at noon, while the U12 team is up against Pacific Polo at 7:50 a.m.
— From staff reports