NEWPORT BEACH — At the other end of the Newport Harbor High pool, Coach Bill Barnett heard a familiar voice.
Doug Peabody, a coach at The Bishop's School of La Jolla, was sitting on a bench and yelling Saturday. You could have heard his booming voice across campus.
"I've known Bill since I was in high school and I'm 47," said Peabody, who marvels at the job Barnett does at Newport Harbor, where he has coached for 45 years.
Peabody said not much has changed about Barnett over the years. He might be leaning forward a bit more, but so is his girls' water polo program.
The Sailors continued their impressive start to the season by beating the Knights, 6-4, in a physical nonleague affair between two elite programs from the CIF Southern Section and CIF San Diego Section.
After battling for 28 minutes in the water, the two teams planned to eat together. Peabody said the postgame meal has been a Sailor-Knight tradition.
Whoever plays host to the annual game feeds the other team.
The Knights looked hungry and it was understandable. Newport Harbor (9-1) wore down the small private school.
"You see, this is my team," said Peabody while pointing at seven girls sitting on the ground. "We don't have many subs."
The Sailors took advantage of the Knights' lack of depth in the second quarter. They went on a 3-0 run, getting two goals from Madison McLaren and one from Elissia Schilling, to take a 4-1 lead at halftime.
The second match in as many days against a team ranked in the Southern Section Division I top 10 appeared bleak for The Bishop's, the San Diego Section Division II runner-up last season. Fourteen minutes separated the Knights from their fourth loss to a team outside of their section.
The Bishop's has only dropped four matches this season — to Dos Pueblos of Goleta, the defending CIF Southern Section Division I champion, San Clemente, El Toro, and Newport Harbor, last season's Division I runner-up.
The Sailors tried to deliver the knockout blow at the five-minute mark in the third period.
McLaren sent a long pass to a wide-open Presley Pender. It was just the junior attacker and goalie Gabby Stone, and Pender easily beat her. Newport led, 5-1, and then it let up.
The Knights (6-4) scored back-to-back goals in a 45-second span to cut the deficit to two goals. The second goal by Kristen Casey surprised Newport Harbor goalie Sarah Wilkey, who finished with 10 saves.
From the left side, Casey sneaked a shot past the UCLA-bound senior. It seemed there was not much room for Casey to work with as Wilkey protected the inside post.
Wilkey and the Sailors found themselves in trouble two minutes later. Two players picked up exclusions, leaving The Bishop's on a six-on-four advantage. This time Casey was unable to bring the Knights closer, as her shot went wide right.
Not taking advantage of five power-play opportunities hurt the Knights' chances.
What could have been a one-goal game was a three-goal deficit 27 seconds later for The Bishop's.
McLaren burned the Knights with her third goal of the game. The junior gave Newport Harbor a cushion and it was enough for the Sailors to start looking forward to next week.
Newport Harbor returns to Sunset League play Wednesday to face Huntington Beach, before traveling the next day for the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions. The prestigious two-day event gets underway Friday, when the Sailors open with Long Beach Wilson.
The two teams have already met this season, Newport Harbor winning, 12-5, on Dec. 14. The Sailors could also see another team they know very well and have already beaten. Barnett is not thrilled about playing Back Bay rival Corona del Mar so early in the tournament.
"If we win our first game against Long Beach Wilson, we play Corona in the second round [should CdM win its opener]," Barnett said. "I don't think the seeding was correct. Corona should've been the third seed, Laguna Beach fourth and we should have been fifth. For some reason, [the tournament] changed Corona and Laguna around and I have no idea why.
"It's a very important tournament. [This could help us earn] a good seed into the [CIF Southern Section Division I] playoffs."
Newport Harbor 6,
The Bishop's 4
SCORE BY QUARTERS
TB 0 – 1 – 2 – 1 — 4
NH 1 – 3 – 2 – 0 — 6
TB – Webster 2, Casey 1, Chun 1. Saves – Stone 16.
NH – McLaren 3, Pender 1, Obenauer 1, Schilling 1. Saves – Wilkey 10.