Newport Harbor High's Elissia Schilling, right, scores on a back-handed shot defended by Santa Barbara's Jessica Gaffney. (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / December 29, 2012)

NEWPORT BEACH — If the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team is leading headed to the fourth quarter, junior goalie Cleo Harrington waits for the words from Coach Bill Barnett.

He said them again Saturday afternoon, going into the fourth quarter of the Holiday Cup third-place match.

"If they don't score, we win," Barnett told Harrington, loudly enough that everyone on the pool deck at Newport Harbor High could hear.

Corona del Mar didn't score in the fourth quarter. Newport Harbor was on its way to posting a 7-4 victory in the third-place match, getting a bit of payback after losing the Battle of the Bay match last week.

Senior co-captain Elissia Schilling and junior Christina O'Beck each scored three goals, as the Sailors also rebounded from a 7-6 loss to Santa Barbara in the semifinals earlier Saturday. Foothill handed CdM its first loss of the season, 9-7, in the other semifinal.

Foothill went on to win the tournament for the second straight year, pulling away in the second half for an 8-4 victory over Santa Barbara.

Newport Harbor's junior varsity team placed a strong ninth in the tournament after outlasting Palos Verdes in triple overtime, 7-6, in the ninth-place match.

Better shooting was key for the Sailors' varsity team (6-3) against CdM. They were down 3-2 late in the second quarter after CdM freshman Maddie Musselman scored on a pass from senior Morgan Stewart.

But Schilling scored on a long outside shot before halftime, then the Sailors scored three consecutive goals in the third quarter, one each by Schilling, O'Beck and senior Carolyn Smith.

"You have to make the goalie stop the ball, and we didn't do that the last time we played them," Schilling said. "A lot of our shots were wide or over the cage, so we worked on our outside shooting a lot. It definitely showed in this game … Everyone played great today too. The last time we played CdM, there was a lot of miscommunication."

Musselman scored again bar down before the third quarter ended, trimming the Newport lead to 6-4. But O'Beck provided the final goal, on a short lob at the shot-clock buzzer with 2:44 left to play in the match.

"I think today we really played as a team," said O'Beck, who also had a pair of steals. "We're coming together."

Harrington made eight saves for the Sailors, who shut out CdM for a period of nearly nine minutes in-between Musselman's goals. Senior defender Avery Peterson had a pair of field blocks, and senior-co-captain Carly Christian drew two exclusions for Newport, which opens Sunset League play against Edison on Wednesday.

Musselman had two goals, two steals and a field block for CdM (5-2), which may lose its spot as the No. 1 team in CIF Southern Section Division 1. Ally McCormick and Eliza Britt also scored for the Sea Kings in the third-place match, Genevieve Weed had two steals and her sister Erica made three saves.

CdM Coach Sam Bailey saw his team look tired at the end of the long tournament. The Sea Kings had to play the third-place match just two hours after their semifinal loss to Foothill ended.

"Foothill plays a really physical game and they were really heavy on us," Bailey said. "The girls took four days off, and hopefully they were conditioning. Even if they were swimming, I'm pretty confident they weren't doing a lot of legs, and that's on me … It was tough. I think a lot of it comes down to conditioning."

CdM will get a significant boost next week as its Greek senior transfers, twins Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis, become eligible. They can return to action in CdM's Pacific Coast League opener against Irvine on Friday. Bailey said they will step right into starting positions, but he's happy with his team's overall progress.

"They've shown that they're capable of playing with anybody," he said. "Beyond playing, they're capable of beating anybody. They've shown the depth that we have in our program … I think that's the biggest thing that's come out of this first month of the season."

Newport Harbor was edged by Santa Barbara in the Holiday Cup semifinals, despite holding a 4-2 lead at one point in the second quarter. Santa Barbara senior Kelsey O'Brien, who had a game-high four goals, scored the game-winner on a counter-attack with 4:03 left.

The Sailors had one last chance, calling timeout with 15 seconds left. Schilling's backhand shot at set went off the post in the final moments, and the rebound went to Peterson in front of the net. But Santa Barbara caused a ball-under call to force the turnover and secure the victory.

Christian and Schilling each scored twice in the semifinal loss, and Harrington made six saves. Schilling and Peterson combined for eight steals.

"That was a tough game, but any time you lose you want to be able to bounce back and win," Schilling said. "At least we split today, instead of going 0 for 2. At the beginning of the year we make a goal list, and one of our goals is to make top three in every tournament."

CdM, meanwhile, was thwarted by Foothill. Coach Jeff Colton put in a freshman goalie, Kenzi Snyder, instead of his usual senior starter Kelsey Rowland. Snyder made big plays down the stretch to help Foothill, and the Sea Kings didn't score after Genevieve Weed's power-play strike with 5:58 left narrowed CdM's deficit to 8-7.

Weed had a game-high four goals, and McCormick added three. Senior Cassidy Papa was held scoreless but had four steals and drew three exclusions.

Nikki Stansfield, Katy Schneider and Cana Manzella had two goals each for Foothill.

Newport Harbor's junior varsity team got a sudden-death goal from sophomore Chanel Schilling in its win over Palos Verdes. Schilling had three goals in the game and Ellie Reid scored twice, while Maddie Goodell drew two penalty shots and also scored. The Newport JV squad, which also beat Huntington Beach, 9-5, in a ninth-place semifinal, went 3-1 in the tournament. The team achieved Coach Brian Melstrom's goal of a top-10 finish.

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo