Morgan Stewart scored her second goal of the game, a lob shot with just under a minute to play in regulation, to give the Corona del Mar girls' water polo team a 5-4 victory over Santa Barbara in the title game of the California State High School Championships Sunday at CdM.
The game-winner gave defending champion CdM its first lead of the game and a solid defensive effort led by the goalie play of CdM captain Erica Weed (five saves) held off Santa Barbara's talented offense led by rising senior Kelsey O'Brien.
Santa Barbara, winner of the 2012 Summer Tournament of Champions earlier this month, grabbed an early 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Incoming freshman Maddie Musselman opened CdM's scoring by drawing a five-meter penalty and converting the penalty shot to make it 2-1.
Santa Barbara answered with a goal of its own and led at halftime, 3-1.
In the third quarter CdM's offense finally found the net behind Santa Barbara's standout goalie Maddie Trabuco, including a goal by Stefania Haralabidis.
CdM moved to within one goal at the close of the third period, 4-3.
CdM's defense tightened further as Marina Coskinas, Gen Weed, Eliza Britt and Ioanna Haralabidis joined in holding Santa Barbara scoreless in the fourth quarter setting up Stewart's game winner.
Led by Coach Sam Bailey and assistants Brian Mericle and Maddy Schwartz, CdM posted victories in bracket play over Dana Hills, 15-5, St. Francis of Mountain View, 16-4, and Carlsbad, 16-7.
CdM bested Murrieta Valley, 13-5, in the quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon and defeated El Toro, 8-7, in the semifinals Sunday morning.
Also contributing to victories during the championship weekend were rising senior Caitlin Brandenberger, rising juniors Kampbell Gritsch, Bobbi Hoose and Annie Mortimer, as well as rising sophomores Shannon Frome and Grace Morgan.
It is CdM's second consecutive California High School State Championships title. CdM won the 32-team high school summer tournament with a 11-10 victory over Foothill in the 2011 finals.
Newport Harbor won this year's third place game, 11-2, over El Toro and Murrieta Valley defeated Santa Margarita, 12-6, in the fifth-place game.
— Reader submission