NEWPORT BEACH — On one of the hottest days of the year, at least there was a nice breeze on the Newport Harbor High pool deck.
The action in the Battle of the Bay boys’ water polo scrimmage still sizzled early on.
Seven exclusions were called in the first quarter, six of those on Corona del Mar. The physical nature helped the host Sailors, who scored three early goals on their power play.
Newport Harbor never trailed and outscored the Sea Kings in the scrimmage, 11-7. But seven was not the lucky number for the Sailors’ first-year Coach Robert Lynn. He and his coaching staff had a long post-game meeting with the varsity players.
“I’m not satisfied at all,” said Lynn, who recently returned from coaching the U.S. men’s junior national team, which finished ninth at the FINA World Championships in Greece on Saturday. “We have a little bit of conditioning level now, but I’m not satisfied with Corona del Mar scoring [seven] goals on us. I’m not saying that we’re that [much] better – we’re not – but we have to build a mentality like that. What we’re trying to build is something in their minds, and it’s how to not get involved with the referees, how to not get involved when people are provoking you to fight, how to stay disciplined and stay on task. For me, looking at what we’ve been working on and trying to do it in the first game? [I’m] not satisfied.
“There were a lot of things that we were working on – team structure and movements and stuff like that – that they didn’t do. To the outside [person] looking in, yeah, there’s probably a lot of good things that you saw … From a coaching perspective, we had some good moments in the game and we need to work on a lot of [things].”
Senior Farrel South scored a game-high three goals for Newport Harbor. Juniors Dan Stevens (four steals) and Curtis Fink added two goals each. Andrew Silvers, Ryan Fowler, Sam Edson and Mitchell Mendoza also found the back of the net for Newport Harbor, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division I preseason coaches’ poll.
Senior goalie Koby Yokota had five saves and Wyatt Muller made two saves.
Preston Lee had three steals for Newport Harbor, which built a 5-1 lead early and appeared to play well together. Lynn, the former Harvard-Westlake coach who was gone for much of the summer coaching the U.S. men’s senior and junior national teams after he was hired in May, knows the Sailors have time to work out the kinks. They open their regular season Saturday at Foothill.
“I’m not satisfied with any team scoring seven goals on us,” Lynn said. “For us to reach our objectives, we’re going to have to limit teams to like five goals, and then hopefully we get six. That might be a very difficult objective, but it’s something we can do. It’s always easier to build the defensive side than the offensive side. Now that we have time together focusing on that, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Even the caps are new. Newport Harbor wore caps with a big “N” on the front and an anchor on the back, ones from the Ironman Water Polo League that Lynn founded.
“We’re going to get a new one too,” Lynn said. “Those are Monsterpolo caps. It’s a jean-faded look, but I want to go with a real anchor on the back. You know, like a real anchor.”
Lynn does not forget the details. The same could be said of his vision for the Newport Harbor boys’ program and the Newport Beach Water Polo, Inc. club program.
“I’ve come here to try to build something this community needs,” he said. “I love water polo. I’ve been playing since I was 5, 6 years old, and swimming on a swim team since I was 3. When this opportunity came up, I said, ‘What a match. A community that loves water polo just as much as I do.’ I’m happy to be here. I’m closer to my family [Lynn lives in Long Beach]. To have a chance with these kids, working with these guys all the way up, it’s a privilege.”
Senior Charlie Howarth led CdM with two goals. Jack Harryman, Kyle Trush, Ben Zepfel, Jake Wyatt and Wesley Sherburne also scored for the Sea Kings, who are the top-ranked team and defending champions in Division II.
Juniors Reid Chase and Colby Watson each had three steals for CdM. Senior A.J. Santa Maria also had a standout game in goal and finished with eight saves.
“Some execution details didn’t happen,” CdM Coach Barry O’Dea said. “They’ll get there. It was the same thing last year. We started off slow and we built and built and built, and then we got to where we were at the end of the year last year. We’ll be there at the end.”