Sailors step forward

NEWPORT BEACH — Two Harvard-Westlake High seniors huddled amid the cold and rain Saturday night near Newport Harbor's pool.

They did not want to give their names and they didn't want to comment about playing against their former boys' water polo coach Robert Lynn.

Newport Harbor's first-year coach, Lynn, and his Sailors silenced the Wolverines with a 9-3 win to advance to the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals.

Newport Harbor will face El Toro Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.

Saturday's game was an emotional contest for several involved. However the Newport Harbor players' emotions were geared toward reaching the semifinals.

"Most of us felt like it was just another water polo game — come out, play our best and play our game and hopefully win, which we did," said junior Dan Stevens, who had three field blocks, two steals and one assist. "I thought we played great on defense and we countered hard. We were balanced. I'm happy about it."

The victory sets the stage for what should be an intense semifinal against El Toro. Stevens scored the game-winning goal with 15 seconds left in a wild 10-9 victory against the Chargers Oct. 15.

"We expect it will be a good game," Stevens said. "We'll need to prepare. It's always going to be a battle against them."

Lynn provided a humble take on Newport Harbor.

The Sailors (25-1) will need to improve upon Saturday's performance if they can have a chance to beat El Toro again, he said.

He saw some areas that needed work. Sometimes the Sailors didn't finish on offense.

Harvard-Westlake (19-9) held Newport Harbor scoreless in the third period.

But the Wolverines went scoreless in that quarter too. Overall, Newport Harbor provided a few highlight-reel-type plays and stayed in control. Curtis Fink led the way with three goals, while Andrew Silvers and Preston Lee scored two goals each.

"It was emotional," Lynn said of the game. "I love those kids. They are a great bunch. This was a move for my family. This gave me the opportunity to move back home [to Long Beach]. I'm very happy with the move."

Newport Harbor is happy with Saturday's win.

The Sailors scored three goals in each of the first two periods. Stevens' goal with 5:38 left in the first half completed a sweet give-and-go from Silvers.

Farrel South later made a sensational pass on a power play. He lobbed the ball from about 10 meters out toward the cage. Silvers guided it in from set to give Newport an 8-3 lead with 2:52 left in the game.

The Sailors were also impressive on defense with Stevens and Ryan Fowler (two field blocks, one steal) providing contributions. Senior goalie Koby Yokota made eight saves, including a huge stop on a five-meter penalty shot with 5:21 left in the first half.

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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