NEWPORT BEACH — Farrel South said it has been a little tough playing without Newport Harbor High's new water polo coach this summer.
Robert Lynn, hired in May to the lead the Sailors, is in China as an assistant coach with the U.S. men's national team.
While Lynn is helping the U.S. at the FINA World Championships, the Sailors began another tournament without Lynn on Friday. The boys did not need Lynn in the first two matches at the California State High School Championships.
Fourth-seeded Newport Harbor cruised in pool-play, beating Los Altos, 12-2, and then San Clemente, 11-4, at home. The Sailors played well with Pavle Filipovic as the acting head coach.
South, who has played for Lynn on a U.S. junior national team, said Filipovic is a lot like Lynn. Filipovic has coached under Lynn for almost three years, so it makes sense the two have similar coaching styles.
Filipovic was first with Lynn with the Long Beach Shore Aquatics and the past two years at Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood, where the two guided the girls' program to a CIF Southern Section Division IV title in February. Filipovic believes the Sailors will contend for a section title this fall.
Summer is the time to prepare for such a run. While the results matter during the big tournaments, Filipovic focuses on how his players train before the high school season.
The Sailors looked in great shape against their first two opponents. It helped that Filipovic was familiar with both Los Altos and San Clemente.
"We expected like [an] easy first two games," Filipovic said.
After the Sailors play their final pool-play match against Clovis West of Fresno on Saturday at 8 a.m., Filipovic believes the tournament will get tougher.
Newport Harbor is on a collision course with Miramonte of Orinda in the quarterfinals. Filipovic said fifth-seeded Miramonte is one of the contenders in the 32-team tournament, which features the likes of Mater Dei, El Toro and Loyola of Los Angeles.
If Newport Harbor gets past Miramonte, the Sailors might meet top-seeded Mater Dei, the CIF Southern Section Division I champion last season. Mater Dei, playing under the club team Regency, drilled Newport Harbor last month in the semifinals of the Ironman Super Finals.
Ryan Fowler wants another shot at the Monarchs.
"I'd always like to beat Mater Dei," Fowler said.
Fowler contributed to getting Newport Harbor closer to a rematch against Mater Dei.
The incoming senior recorded a couple of nice second-half goals against San Clemente.
Curtis Fink put Newport Harbor out in front early on. He scored three of the team's four goals in the first seven minutes.
Fink is one of a handful standout incoming juniors at Newport Harbor. The others are Andrew Silvers, Preston Lee and Daniel Stevens. Silvers, Lee and Stevens each finished with one goal.
While the younger players put away shots, it took the program's leading goal scorer from a year ago to find the back of the net.
Twenty seconds into the fourth period, South scored. He scored another on a lob 54 seconds later to give Newport Harbor a 9-2 lead.
South can score in bunches, as he finished with 113 goals last season as a junior. Even though he said he has not worked with Lynn this summer, South is looking forward to his final season at Newport Harbor.
The Sailors expect Lynn to return to Newport Harbor in early August, when the team begins double-day workouts.
Lynn took over the program as a walk-on coach after Newport Harbor fired Jason Lynch.
"For me personally, a coach is a coach and it's my last year, so I just got to make the best of it," South said. "Whether they're good or not, I just need to make my season the best that it can be and improve my fundamentals and everything else."