CORONA DEL MAR — Will Havercroft pumped his fist in the first quarter after scoring two quick goals.
Chase Watson put his index finger up on each hand after scoring, six times in all.
In the Battle of the Bay, the Corona del Mar High boys’ water polo team was fired up. And, as Watson’s gestures would suggest, the Sea Kings earned the right to be called No. 1 after they shocked Newport Harbor, 13-10, on Saturday night at CdM.
“We went into this game with nothing to lose,” Watson said. “We’re not in their division anymore, but we know this is going to hurt their rating in Division I. It’s all about pride with Newport … We had a great game plan and we executed it to a ‘T.’ ”
CdM came out fired up and never backed down. The heroes were many, from Watson’s dominance at set to Havercroft’s two early goals on extra that gave the Sea Kings momentum. Then there was senior defender Nick Treadaway and the job he did guarding Newport Harbor junior Farrel South, as well as a stellar game in goal from CdM senior goalie Bruce Bearer (11 saves).
Newport Harbor (16-3), ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division I, might have come into the game as the favorite after dismantling Los Alamitos in a Sunset League game Wednesday. Corona del Mar (11-7), ranked No. 3 in Division II, had something to say about that, winning the Battle of the Bay for the second time in three years.
CdM Coach Barry O’Dea was all smiles after beating Newport Harbor for the second time in his six-year tenure.
“These guys know that I expect them to play this type of game,” O’Dea said. “We did it in New Zealand [over the summer] Now, it’s starting to gel … I think we may have hit a breakthrough tonight.”
Senior lefty Chris Robertson scored the game’s opening goal for the Sea Kings, followed by the two six-on-five strikes by Havercroft. After Watson’s backhand from set beat a double-team, fellow senior center Emery Molnar joined in on the fun, giving CdM a 5-2 advantage late in the first quarter.
“We came out stronger than [Newport Harbor],” Havercroft said. “We came out more intense than they did, and we finished the game better than they did. They looked scared this game.”
The Sea Kings never trailed. After South (six goals) scored from the wing to pull the Sailors within 6-5, the home team responded with back-to-back goals from senior Evan Ramsey and another backhander from set from Watson for a 9-5 halftime advantage.
Newport Harbor brought its cheerleaders to the CdM pool. They sat behind the Sailors’ goal in the first half, powerless to stop CdM’s scoring in the first 14 minutes.
At times, O’Dea would send Watson down the pool as the Sailors’ shot clock dwindled. That led to several one-on-one opportunities. Besides Watson’s six goals, he drew four Sailors exclusions and earned a penalty shot as well. O’Dea said his center finished the night shooting six-for-seven.
“Chase is the best two-meter man in the county,” O’Dea said. “No one can guard Chase. I know [El Toro senior Russell] Renteria is good, but no one can guard Chase. Unfortunately, sometimes he gets punished for his size. He’ll take a bigger beating than a smaller two-meter man will, but he’s toughened up and he showed it tonight.”
Newport Harbor Coach Jason Lynch said he changed to a press defense in the second half, after the Sailors’ zone defense in the first half was ineffective. His team still never got closer than two goals after the intermission.
South did score six goals again, like he did against Los Al, but Lynch knew it wasn’t the same dominant performance. Treadaway stayed on him the whole way.
“Farrel’s great,” Watson said. “But if you control Farrel, you control Newport.”
Davy Jorth scored twice for the Sailors as well, with Preston Lee and Andrew Duhoux adding single goals.
“Offensively, we rushed some shots, particularly South,” Lynch said. “Our shooting percentage was awful. We still managed enough goals to win, 10, but you’re not going to win games when you’re giving up 13 goals.
"[CdM] had a good crowd, and they were excited. I’m not going to make excuses, but we had a huge league game Wednesday. We were guarding against coming out soft, but I think [the Los Al game] took it out of us a little bit. But I tried to tell them if you’re a championship team, you’re not going to fall apart. We’ve got some thinking to do about that.”
The Sea Kings, meanwhile, play host to Irvine on Tuesday in an important Pacific Coast League game.
“We’ve started off a little shaky, but we’ve put everything together,” Havercroft said. “We’re going to keep this intensity up and we’re going to go all the way and win CIF. We’re just really pumped about everything.”