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SOUTHERN SECTION WATER POLO PLAYOFFS : Corona del Mar Rally Eliminates San Clemente


NEWPORT BEACH — Corona del Mar scored three times in the third quarter Saturday to break open a close contest and defeat San Clemente, 8-5, in a Division I semifinal water polo game at Newport Harbor High.

The Sea Kings (22-3) advance to the finals against top-seeded El Toro at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach.

Saturday's game was a replay of the Oct. 16 meeting, when Corona del Mar relied on a second-half surge to beat San Clemente, 8-5, in the finals of the North Orange County tournament.

James Palda, who had four goals against the Tritons five weeks ago, got the Sea Kings going when he broke loose from the pack and scored over the head of San Clemente goalie Gabe Gardner.

Phinney Gardner got the Tritons even with 41 seconds left in the opening quarter when he scored from close in as the 35-second shot clock expired.

Fifteen seconds later, Neil Hueston made a penalty shot to give the Sea Kings a 2-1 edge.

The Tritons got even with 4:40 left in the half when Marc Staudenbauer lobbed a shot into the right corner of the net, but Corona del Mar quickly answered when Hueston scored with five seconds left on the shot clock.

Corona del Mar led, 4-3, at the half, but scored four consecutive goals during the third and beginning of the fourth quarter for an 8-3 lead.

In the other Division I game:

El Toro 10, Long Beach Wilson 9--Bill Pinciroli scored three goals and Greg Stoll had 17 saves as visiting El Toro (27-2) recorded its 21st consecutive Southern Section playoff victory.

In Division III:

Costa Mesa 12, Santa Barbara 10--The Mustangs (24-7) avenged a 12-7 regular-season loss to Santa Barbara to advance to their second consecutive section title game. Second-seeded Costa Mesa, the defending champion, will play top-seeded South Pasadena for the title at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach.

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