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GIRLS' WATER POLO

Irvine May Be Short-Handed Against Sailors

January 09, 2001|MICHAEL ITAGAKI

It was supposed to be only a tune-up for Wednesday's Sea View League showdown with third-ranked Newport Harbor, but fourth-ranked Irvine may have suffered a key loss during its defeat against Long Beach Wilson last Friday.

The Bruins played without youth national team player Cassie Azevedo, but they still defeated the Vaqueros, 12-11. What was worse for Irvine (7-3), however, was the disqualification of starter Mary Beth Cox.

Cox received her third major foul late in the fourth quarter, disqualifying her for the rest of the game. But Irvine Coach Scott Hinman said officials ejected her for misconduct, which also carries an automatic one-game suspension.

Hinman said he is checking the interpretation of the rule, but Cox will likely be ineligible for Wednesday's potential league-title game.

"It was a bad call," Hinman said of Cox's disqualification. "She was called for misconduct, which in that case, was essentially talking back to the official. But it wasn't even audible. It was a bang-bang thing and it happened so quick.

"Since she was already disqualified from the game with her third ejection, I'm not sure how that all works. We'll wait and see."

If Cox is out, that could put more pressure on the Vaqueros' leading scorer, Nicole Lorrimer. Sarah Hamilton and Kristi Riedel also will have to step up their production.

"We've never been a team that focuses on an individual," Hinman said. "Hopefully that will help us."

Newport Harbor (10-2) also goes into Wednesday's showdown on a sour note after losing a heartbreaker Saturday to Carlsbad, 8-7, on Scottie Schaefer's last-second goal.

"It was a wake-up call for us to work more as a team," junior Katherine Belden said. "I believe everything happens for a reason, so yeah, maybe [the Carlsbad loss] was a good thing. We all realize that we need to step it up."

Belden has risen to the challenge of being a team leader. She leads the Sailors in goals (22), assists (17), steals (42) and drawn ejections (15).

Jenna Booth (21 goals, 11 assists), Annie Wight (13 goals, 28 steals) and Erin Ball (15 assists, 30 steals) are three other key players who will have to produce if the Sailors are to unseat the defending champions.

"We're pretty prepared and pumped up," Belden said.

SHOWDOWN II

Figuring the league title could likely be determined by the outcome of this game, Laguna Beach Coach Rick Scott loaded the front half of his team's schedule to prepare for Wednesday's Pacific Coast League meeting with Corona del Mar (7-4), the eighth-ranked team in the county.

Seventh-ranked Laguna Beach (13-4) has already played in its allotted three tournaments: the Benson Cup, Villa Park and Newport Harbor-Corona del Mar.

The Artists' four losses have come against tough teams: Carlsbad, one of the top-ranked teams in San Diego; Capistrano Valley, ranked second in Orange County, No. 6 Marina and Esperanza, which was ranked ninth in the county last week.

Two Laguna Beach losses came by one goal each, to Capistrano Valley and Esperanza, but the Artists also defeated No. 9 El Toro and No. 8 Corona del Mar.

So Laguna Beach, which has already played twice as many games as some teams, should be seasoned for this rematch with Corona del Mar.

Teresa Codini, who leads the Artists with 56 goals, scored twice in a 4-2 victory over the Sea Kings, Dec. 29 in consolation play at the Newport-Corona tournament.

Teresa's twin sister Tina, who has 37 goals, and Laura Case, who has 38, have combined with Teresa Codini for 82% (131 of 169) of the team's goals.

The Sea Kings, who reached the Southern Section Division IV final last season, are led by sophomores Christina Hewko and Danielle Carlson.

OLD MENTOR

Los Alamitos Coach Dave Carlson once led Marina to a Southern Section Division I title, but now his former standouts will be trying to beat him.

Wednesday, the Griffins meet Marina, ranked sixth in the county, in a Sunset League opener that could set the tone for a hopeful Los Alamitos squad, which is coming off a championship run at the Western tournament last weekend.

"Our confidence is up after the tournament," Carlson said. "Our defense is working well and everybody is on the same page. We're definitely underdogs going in, but we're feeling comfortable right now."

Marina is led by seniors Cara Chlebicki, Erin Wilson and Kendra Shanley, who, as freshmen, were among the key players for Carlson, who coached the Vikings to a Division I title in 1998.

"It's kind of a weird deal," said Carlson, who left Marina, where he was a walk-on coach, for a full-time teaching and coaching position at Los Alamitos. "You know all the girls on their team and the girls on this team. I don't think there's any real advantage. They know me, but I know them too."

TOURNAMENT TEST

Top-ranked Foothill and second-ranked Capistrano Valley head the list of county teams that will go north this weekend for the highly regarded 16-team Santa Barbara tournament.

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