Even playing against all-star club teams, the Newport Water Polo Foundation 18-and-under girls showed impressive defense at last weekend's USA Water Polo Junior Olympics.
This should not be surprising, as Newport has one of the best incoming senior goalies (Carlee Kapana) and set defenders (Rachel Whitelegge) around.
They helped Newport finish 10th in the platinum division at the tournament, held in the Bay Area. The CdM Aquatics 18-and-under girls finished 12th.
Recent Newport Harbor goalie graduate Cleo Harrington, bound for Harvard, helped SET's 18U girls finish fifth after beating Santa Barbara in a shootout.
Newport's 16-and-under girls won the lower classic division at the Junior Olympics, while CdM finished eighth in the gold division.
Newport Water Polo Foundation's 18-and-under girls, which is made up of Newport Harbor High players coached by Bill Barnett, went 6-3 in the tournament. They were seeded 14th but finished 10th after falling in a shootout to Xtreme Green, 9-9 (4-2), on Sunday at Gunn High in Palo Alto.
Newport also beat rival CdM, 5-2, in a ninth-place semifinal game Saturday at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center.
"I think it went really well," Newport incoming senior Kate Pipkin said. "We really kicked up our defense. We got 14th last year, so it's definitely a step up. I'm really proud of how we did. Summer season's always a time that's the roughest for Newport. It's a time to work all the kinks out.
"[Beating CdM] got us into the ninth- and 10th-place game. We ended up being 10th, but hey, we beat CdM, and Newport's always happy about that."
Other contributors for Newport included Emma Erickson, Ellie Reid, Kate Yasko, Katie Kearns, Kara Carlson, Isabel Leveque and Chanel Schilling.
"I thought we played well," Barnett said. "I was pleased with the effort."
The defense was impressive. CdM went scoreless in eight power-play opportunities against Newport, CdM Coach Ross Sinclair said. His team continued playing without last year's Newport-Mesa Player of the Year, incoming junior Maddie Musselman, who has been training with the U.S. senior national team this summer.
"Carlee had one of those games," Sinclair said.
Sinclair said incoming senior Eliza Britt "had an amazing summer in and out of the pool" for CdM, which finished 12th at the Junior Olympics after falling to CHAWP in a shootout, 11-11 (5-3), on Sunday at Gunn High. CdM started the tournament 5-1 before losing its last three games.
It's been a long summer of action for CdM, which won gold at the Pan Pacific Youth Water Polo Festival last month and reached the finals of the California State High School Championships.
"I knew [Junior Olympics were] going to be tough coming off our long summer of travel, but the girls did well," Sinclair said. "They battled ... they really finished the summer on a high note. They're feeling confident going into the school year."
Newport's 16-and-under girls, coached by Brian Melstrom, went a perfect 7-0 in the classic division. They won the title after beating Xtreme Green, 6-3, on Sunday at San Jose State.
Goalie Maddy Kanzler, an incoming junior who has trained with the 18-and-unders much of the summer as Kapana has been training with the U.S. national team, helped lead the Newport effort.
"She has improved so much," said teammate and fellow incoming junior Sammie Garcia. "It's unbelievable. She's blocked a bunch of five-meters lately. She blocked a big one in the semifinals this weekend, so that was awesome."
Chloe Schilling has also improved as a goalie for Newport. Garcia, another key piece, said that Newport's two-meter girls — Josie Miller, Sarah Barker and Claire Tafoya — also played well.
Garcia said that Newport was ready after failing to qualify for the championship division. She was proud of the fact that Newport didn't bring any 18U girls down to the lower age group during the tournament, either.
"We were more motivated to win the entire thing [being in the classic division]," Garcia said. "I thought that we improved each game. The last three games we had, we played more as a team."
Quincy Morgan, Baylor Boring and Alex Crow also contributed for the NWPF 16s.
CdM's 14-and-under girls finished 13th in the platinum division, where Newport Beach Water Polo's squad placed 19th.
NBWP's 12-and-under girls finished 15th in the platinum division, while CdM had two squads in the age group. CdM Pink was eighth in the gold division, and CdM White was 21st.
NBWP also had a 10-and-under co-ed team that finished second in the gold division, making the final before falling to Laguna Beach, 7-2.