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High Schools | SPOTLIGHT ON GIRLS' WATER POLO

She Always Has a Hand in Canyon's Success

January 19, 2002|Dan Arritt

The sophomore jinx almost struck Courtney Mathewson a week before Christmas.

Mathewson, an All-Southern Section Division I selection as a freshman at Anaheim Canyon High last season, slammed her right hand into a teammate's forearm as she followed through on a shot. The impact split the webbing between her middle and ring fingers and caused a frightful scene for those in the pool.

"I thought I broke my fingers," Mathewson said. "But when I looked there was blood running down my hand."

Mathewson needed six stitches to close the wound. The Comanches had no games over the holidays, but Mathewson was scheduled to play for the U.S. youth national "B" team at the NorAm tournament in Los Alamitos right after Christmas.

Determined to play despite the injury, Mathewson had the stitches taken out a few hours before the first game, taped her fingers together and ignored the pain.

"That didn't surprise me," said Courtney's sister, Lauren, who also plays for Canyon. "Last year, she got her lip split open during a game and kept on playing."

Mathewson still tapes her fingers together, but the pain and tenderness, which were most apparent when she caught a pass, have subsided. Although she's not on pace to match the 96 goals she scored last season, Mathewson is still the most dangerous player on a team ranked ninth by The Times.

"She's a trooper," Canyon Coach Matt Slevcove said.

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Headed east: Crescenta Valley goalkeeper Amy Brunton is on a recruiting trip this weekend to Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y.

Hartwick?

"I've always wanted to go to New York," Brunton said. "And this happened to be a good opportunity because they have water polo."

Founded in 1797, Hartwick is a liberal arts and sciences college with approximately 1,400 students, one-third of whom play sports. The women's water polo team at Hartwick made its Division I debut in 2000; it is one of only two sports on campus that compete in the NCAA's top division.

Brunton was an All-Southern Section Division III selection last year, leading Crescenta Valley into the section semifinals. She has helped the Falcons to a 20-2 start this season.

While Brunton has provided the defense, Jessie Stiles, Megan Winchell and Laura Claessens have sparked the offense for the Falcons, ranked second in Division III.

"The girls are playing much better than they did three or four weeks ago," Crescenta Valley Coach Peter Kim said. "We're feeding off of our defense and executing much better on offense."

Crescenta Valley plays host to Glendale in a Pacific League game Tuesday.

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Looking ahead: Some of the best matchups this week are today. No. 3 Santa Margarita travels to No. 6 Corona del Mar for a nonleague game at 1 p.m. Two of San Diego County's top programs will travel north, with No. 4 Santa Barbara playing Carlsbad at Carpinteria High at 1 and Coronado playing at No. 8 Lake Forest El Toro at 2.

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Dan Arritt

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