CdM plays for ninth

SANTA ANA — The chant at the end of the quarter break is not unfamiliar for the CdM Aquatics 18-and-under girls' team.

It's the same as the one the Sea Kings use during the high school season. Senior-to-be Pippa Saunders instructs her teammates to yell "Corona win!" on the count of three.

Fellow senior-to-be Alex Musselman counts to three before the whole team yells it, "Corona win!"

But in terms of saves, the goalie Musselman definitely didn't stop at three Saturday afternoon at Foothill High.

The UCLA commit made a staggering 39 saves in CdM's two games at the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics. She had 21 saves in a 10-6 loss to San Diego Shores "A," then came back with 18 saves as CdM edged Davis, 8-7.

The latter win means ninth-seeded CdM will indeed play for ninth place in the platinum division Sunday. CdM will play Walnut Creek-based 680 Drivers Red at 1 p.m. at Santa Margarita High.

Newport Water Polo Foundation's 18-and-under girls, who won twice Saturday, will play Los Angeles Water Polo Club "Red" for 13th place at 11:45 a.m., also at Santa Margarita.

CdM Coach Sam Bailey knows he's got a great goalie in Musselman, last year's Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year. But he'd probably be more impressed with her modest answer when asked about her big day.

"When my team's working so hard on defense, it makes me really want to block the ball," Musselman said.

She provided the last block at the final buzzer against Davis, helping CdM move on. It was a back-and-forth game, but CdM took its biggest lead, 8-5, on incoming junior Morgan Stewart's power-play strike early in the fourth quarter. Davis rallied within a goal on a strong drive and score by UC San Diego-bound Rachel Brooks with 33 seconds left.

CdM tried to run out the clock, but Musselman still needed to make the save on Davis' Rachel Johnson as time expired. Junior-to-be Cassidy Papa led CdM with three goals, incoming senior Diana Murphy scored twice and Avery Warwick and Saunders both added goals.

CdM led seventh-seeded San Diego Shores, 3-1, after a quarter. But San Diego Shores rallied for a 6-5 lead after three quarters and put the game away in the fourth, with Papa fouled out. Cal-bound Victoria Williams stole the ball at mid-pool and scored for San Diego Shores, then San Diego State-bound Anique Hermann did the same 14 seconds later. The latter goal gave San Diego Shores its 10-6 lead and put the game out of reach.

Hermann led all scorers with five goals. Papa and Genevieve Weed led CdM with two goals each.

Bailey said he's been impressed with Weed, who was matched up on San Diego Shores two-meter player Williams for much of the game.

"We matched Gen up with one of their most talented athletes," Bailey said. "For Genevieve, an incoming junior who hasn't played much center defense before, I think she's doing an outstanding job. She's really smart, she's super-athletic. She sees the pool, she keeps her hips up. Gen's had an outstanding tournament."

CdM, which leaves Monday for the Hawaiian Invitational tournament, feels it has also done well collectively. Papa said it feels good to have a successful Junior Olympics; last year CdM was 19th.

"It's obviously really good help for us to play all these teams that have girls from like 10 different high schools," Papa said. "We're a high school team, so it's just more practice for us for season. All it's doing is making us learn more.

"I think we're the last high school team in the top 10. Obviously we aim to finish higher than we [will], but now it's going for ninth place, which is really good for a high school team. [We're] improving from last JOs, when we got 19th. That was not our best, so it's really cool to see how much we've stepped up."

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The Newport Water Polo Foundation 18-and-under girls, who will play LA Water Polo Club for 13th, won twice Saturday. Maddy McLaren and Presley Pender each had three goals as Newport defeated Santa Barbara "B" team, 6-4, in its first game at Santa Margarita. NWPF then came back for a 9-3 win over Regency.

Carly Christian had three goals in the second win and Elissia Schilling scored twice.

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Recent Newport Harbor graduates Catherine Carpenter and goalie Sarah Wilkey have each helped lead their teams to the 18U platinum semifinals. Carpenter and SOCAL Black play top-seeded Santa Barbara "A" — a team SOCAL upset Friday — in the first semifinal Sunday at 9:15 a.m. at Foothill High.

Wilkey and Huntington Beach "Blue" play Diablo in the second semifinal Sunday at 10:30 a.m., also at Foothill.

The championship match is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Irvine's Woollett Aquatics Center.

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