Girls' Water Polo: Newport Harbor-Santa Barbara preview

CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal

No. 1. Santa Barbara (25-4) vs. No. 4 Newport Harbor (23-6)

When/where: Wednesday, 6:45 p.m. at Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine

Key Dons: Sr. GK Maddie Trabucco; Sr. utility Kelsey O'Brien; Sr. attacker Rocio Fesembeck; Sr. attacker Sophie Trabucco; Jr. attacker Betsy Hendrix.

Key Sailors: Sr. attacker Carly Christian (team-high 70 goals, 19 assists, team-high 55 steals); Sr. center Elissia Schilling (44 goals, 19 assists, 44 steals); Sr. defender Avery Peterson (28 goals, 22 assists, 45 steals); Jr. GK Cleo Harrington (258 saves); Jr. attacker Christina O'Beck (39 goals, 9 assists, 20 steals).

Breakdown: Channel League champion Santa Barbara is 3-0 against Newport Harbor this season, all in tournaments. The Dons defeated the Sailors in the semifinals of the Holiday Cup, the championship match of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions and the semifinals of the Irvine Southern California Championships … Santa Barbara also beat Newport at least twice in summer tournaments (Santa Barbara summer Tournament of Champions and California State High School Championships), as well as in the Foothill Fall Fling preseason tournament ... Coach Mark Walsh's Dons, who have won 19 matches in a row since losing to Foothill in the Holiday Cup final, run an effective drop defense around Cal-bound goalie Maddie Trabucco ... Trabucco was named the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions MVP and the Most Outstanding Goalie at the Irvine tournament ... This is the first time Santa Barbara's core group of seniors has made the semifinals after losing in the quarterfinals three straight years ... Newport Harbor, the Sunset League champion and defending Division 1 champion, is trying to return to the title match for the third time in four years ... In Trabucco and Harrington, this semifinal match features two of the best goalies in the Southern Section ... Wednesday's semfinals will be streamed online by GoLive Polo (

Prediction: Santa Barbara 6, Newport Harbor 5 (OT)

— Matt Szabo

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