TOC features talented field

Players for the Newport Harbor High and Corona del Mar girls' water polo teams didn't have to wait too long to battle again.

The Sailors and Sea Kings will most likely play for the second time this season Friday, at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

Newport Harbor (10-1) and CdM (7-4) are seeded fourth and fifth, respectively. They're both in Group D in the loaded 16-team tournament. If the Sailors can get past Long Beach Wilson in their first game and the Sea Kings can dispatch Corona Santiago, the Back Bay rivals will meet in a quarterfinal at 6:30 p.m. at Dos Pueblos High.

Newport Harbor won the Battle of the Bay, 6-5 in overtime, on Dec. 17. CdM, which has been playing well since a 1-3 start, will want a bit of revenge.

"Newport will be very exciting, very fun," CdM sophomore Cassidy Papa said. "Everyone on both sides, we always get super pumped up for that game. That's going to be a very high-energy game."

The Sailors, ranked No. 3 in Division I, are led in scoring by junior Maddy McLaren (31 goals). Sophomore Ally McCormick (29 goals) paces the Sea Kings, ranked No. 4 in Division I.

Newport Harbor, surprisingly, has never won the TOC, though the Sailors have finished second place in six of the past eight years. CdM last won the TOC in 2008.

The winner of Friday's potential Battle of the Bay rematch would likely play against Dos Pueblos in Saturday's semifinals at Santa Barbara High. Dos Pueblos, which has won the TOC each of the last two years, is again the top seed. Los Alamitos is seeded second, with Laguna Beach third.

The Breakers are seeded third despite already losing twice to CdM this season. Newport Coach Bill Barnett believes CdM should have been seeded third, Laguna fourth and Newport fifth.

More than just the top seed, Dos Pueblos is clearly the favorite. The Chargers had won 47 straight games headed into this week, a streak that dates to February, 2009. They won't have a cakewalk, though, in the tournament that boasts each of the top eight teams in the CIF Southern Section Division I poll.

The tournament championship game is scheduled for 4:35 p.m. Saturday, at Santa Barbara High.

Editor's Note: Matt Szabo will be reporting at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions. Follow him on twitter, @mjszabo, and blogs at the

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