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Woodbridge Seeded First in Division I Girls' Tennis Playoffs

November 10, 1998|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

As expected, undefeated Woodbridge is the top-seeded team in the Southern Section Division I girls' tennis playoffs. The Warriors, who won the Division III title two years ago but have never won a Division I championship, have beaten the next three seeded teams--Palos Verdes Peninsula, Corona del Mar and Dana Hills.

Woodbridge (18-0), the county's top-ranked team, opens the playoffs Thursday at home against Santa Monica (9-5) or Alhambra (7-7), which play each other today in a wild-card match. Also Thursday, third-seeded Corona del Mar (13-3) plays Alta Loma (10-6) or Glendale (7-12) and fourth-seeded Dana Hills (15-5) hosts Esperanza (15-4).

Fifth-ranked Newport Harbor (9-7), which finished third in the Sea View League, plays a wild-card match today against Long Beach Millikan (13-4), the Moore League's third-place team. The Sailors would play Lynwood and Camarillo, two first-place teams, before a possible quarterfinal showdown with Dana Hills.

Third-ranked Mater Dei (15-3), the South Coast League champion, is the top-seeded team in the Division II playoffs and will open against San Bernardino Pacific (14-6). Sixth-ranked Troy (18-0) was not seeded. The Warriors will host Jurupa Valley (10-8) in the first round and would face fourth-seeded Santa Barbara (9-11) in the quarterfinals. Eighth-ranked Laguna Hills (15-2) was seeded third in Division III. All matches will begin at 2.

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Newport Harbor (21-4), the county's top-ranked boys' water polo team, was seeded second in the Division I playoffs behind Long Beach Wilson (13-0). The Sailors play Canyon (16-8), which received an at-large berth, Thursday in the first round. Third-ranked San Clemente 19-7) was seeded fourth and will open against Encino Crespi (7-13).

Second-ranked Servite (23-3) is the top-seeded team in the Division II playoffs, fifth-ranked Marina (22-4) is second, Laguna Beach (12-2) is third and ninth-ranked Los Alamitos (14-11) is fourth. All games begin at 3:15.

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In Irvine's 42-18 victory Saturday over Santa Margarita, five touchdowns were scored from 65 yards or more--and another was scored from 41.

One of those touchdowns was a halfback pass from Dustin Craeger to Santa Margarita quarterback Greg Orlando that covered 79 yards, which prompted referee Dennis West to remark: "We asked [Coach Jim Hartigan], 'Coach, do you have any special plays we ought to know about?'

"And he said, 'No, we're pretty straightforward.' "

Actually, West was catching his breath. The halfback pass came during a furious few minutes in the third quarter:

* Irvine's Sean Van de Merghel passed 76 yards to Evan Little with 11 minutes 2 seconds left in the third quarter.

* Craeger passed to Orlando, covering 79 yards at 10:40.

* Van de Merghel passed 41 yards to Ray Kang at 8:23.

* Orlando passed 71 yards to Mike O'Gorman at 8:03.

There were nine plays from scrimmage and four touchdowns during the stretch.

Irvine rushed for 266 yards and passed for 215, totaling 484 yards. Santa Margarita rushed for 97 and passed for 316, totaling 413 yards.

There was one other long play, a 61-yard completion from Orlando to Craeger in which Chris Lee caught Craeger from behind, at the 14-yard line (Santa Margarita later missed a field goal). That was the difference: Irvine had the speed to catch Santa Margarita, and the Eagles couldn't catch Irvine.

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Friday will be second-ranked Mater Dei's last South Coast League game, and the 8-1 Monarchs are trying to go unbeaten in league for the fifth time in seven years.

Standing in their path is Trabuco Hills, which is 8-0-1 (a loss to Laguna Hills the second week of the season was reversed on a forfeit). And the seventh-ranked Mustangs, who host the game, do provide a legitimate challenge.

"The season has been very good for us," Trabuco Hills Coach Bill Crow said. "I had been building up the team in the community, and when we lost to Laguna Hills some folks thought I was full of crud. But that loss was good for us; it showed the players if they didn't play like they could, they would get beat."

Crow said the Mustangs found their stride in the victory over Fountain Valley in the final nonleague game. The only remaining blemish on their record is the tie with San Clemente, which is in the county top 10 along with Mater Dei and Trabuco Hills.

Crow cites three players--Al Gandall, Trevor Heaney and Dustin Pratt--as the cornerstones for Trabuco Hills' success.

At quarterback Heaney has rushed for 529 yards and nine touchdowns and passed for 549 yards and six touchdowns. Running back Gandall has rushed for 1,208 yards and eight touchdowns in 218 carries.

Pratt, at linebacker, has 72 lead tackles, 30 assists, one sack and one interception.

"Haney made the conversion from wide receiver," Crow said. "Gandall has been an outstanding tailback for us. And Pratt is our defensive leader."

Times staff writers Martin Henderson and Mike Terry contributed to this report.

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