Plenty at stake for Tars

A fifth straight Sunset League championship is likely on the line tonight for the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team.

The Sailors, who play host to Los Alamitos at 7:10 p.m., are calling this their biggest pre-CIF game of the year for other reasons as well.

Should the winner of tonight's game win out in league, it would more than likely receive either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs. That means being placed in the opposite half of the draw from the likely top seed, two-time defending Division I champion Dos Pueblos of Goleta.

And, since the CIF has a rule that the top two teams in a league can't meet in the playoffs before the championship game, the loser of tonight's game would be placed in Dos Pueblos' side of the draw.

Newport Harbor (12-3, 2-0 in league) lost to Los Alamitos (17-2, 2-0) in Saturday's third-place game of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, 9-8. But Griffins Coach Dave Carlson didn't play Cal-bound starting goalie Savanna Smith in that contest, and Newport Coach Bill Barnett rested some of his regulars in the second half.

Newport Harbor has won the Sunset League every year since joining it in 2006-07. Each year, the game against Los Al has amounted to a league championship game, and each year the Sailors have come out on top. Last year, they won in overtime on Katie Jackson's goal.

But Los Alamitos comes into tonight's game ranked No. 2 in Division I, a spot ahead of Newport Harbor.

Junior Rachel Fattal (73 goals) and Stanford-bound senior Cory Dodson (65) pace Los Al in scoring. Junior Maddy McLaren has scored a team-high 42 goals for Newport Harbor, followed by Stanford-bound senior Catherine Carpenter with 20.

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