Newport turns to 'Beta'

NEWPORT BEACH — Late in the third quarter of Saturday's nonleague game against Palos Verdes, the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo had built a comfortable 10-goal lead.

"Everyone out except for Carolyn," Sailors Coach Bill Barnett said, leaving in junior Carolyn Smith and inserting seniors Annie Kinney, Hailey Shaw, Kirsten Pearson, Brenna Barrios, Charlotte Martin and goalie Lindsey Richardson.

"Team Beta" was in full effect for Newport Harbor.

Kinney, who plans to walk on at Indiana University, said the Sailors' reserves came up with the name for themselves last summer.

"In the last quarter he'd just yell, 'B team,'" Kinney said. "We didn't like the way it sounded."

The Sailors' "Team Beta" members have made T-shirts and have a hand signal, using their fingers to form a lowercase "B." Kinney said they even have a slogan, "Fourth Quarter Warriors."

They got ample playing time in the second half Saturday, as the Sailors eased to a 12-6 victory at Newport Harbor High.

Each member of "Team Beta" has her own fun role. Kinney said she's the spirit captain, Shaw is the team brain and Barrios is the official robe transporter.

Pearson is the attitude coach, Smith is the team jester, Martin is the hydration captain and Richardson is the counter-ball gal.

The team jester even racked up the stats against Palos Verdes, as Smith finished with two goals and three steals.

"They deserve to play," Barnett said. "They've put in their time in workout, so it's important that they get in."

Senior Maddy McLaren had four goals for the Sailors (13-4), who went up 4-0 after the first quarter and 8-1 at the half. It would have been worse if not for solid play from Palos Verdes goalie Carly Radov, who finished with 14 saves and also blocked a five-meter penalty shot.

Sailors goalie Cleo Harrington made four saves, and Richardson also made a save in the fourth quarter.

Juniors Carly Christian and Elissia Schilling (three steals) each scored twice for Newport, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division I coaches' poll. Senior captain Presley Pender and junior Avery Peterson added a goal each, while senior Sophie Leveque racked up three assists and three steals in just a half of work.

"We're playing well as a team, and I think it shows," Leveque said. "We come out strong and we're getting all the passes down ... it's just really good teamwork. We're coming together really well. It's the middle of the season, so it's about time for everything to start clicking."

Seniors Lauren Hickey and Paige Kelly, as well as junior Ellie D'Ambra, each led Palos Verdes (13-9) with two goals each. The Sea Kings had just one goal entering the fourth quarter.

Leveque said the win was nice at the end of a long week. Next week is big too, with two more key nonleague games against Santa Margarita on Tuesday and Laguna Beach on Friday. The Eagles are No. 8 in Division II, and the Breakers are No. 6 in Division I.

"Both of them will be good," Barnett said. "Laguna because they're Division I, and Santa Margarita, I'm sure they'll be out to get us. During the summer we had a couple of really tight games with them."

"Team Beta" may not get into next week's games. They'll still be there on the bench, making sure robes are properly transported and that their teammates are properly hydrated.

"It was nice for everyone to play today," Leveque said. "It just adds to the team morale."

Twitter: @mjszabo

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