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Newport Harbor girls water polo storms to title at Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions

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Newport Harbor’s girls water polo team might have surprised some Saturday by capturing the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions for the first time. The Sailors, however, didn’t surprise themselves.

Coach Ross Sinclair’s team completed a trek from the No. 7 seed to claiming the prestigious title by defeating No. 4 seed Laguna Beach 13-11 in overtime in the championship match at Santa Barbara High.

Junior center Ryan Chalupnik scored five goals and USC-bound goalie Anna Reed made 10 saves to lead the Sailors (14-3), who won four close matches on Friday and Saturday.

Reed, a senior, was selected tournament MVP while Chalupnik earned all-tournament honors.

“It was a great weekend for us,” Sinclair said. “We just keep focusing on getting better each moment. I don’t think we are surprised (to win). We have an expectation on how we want to play and the girls are doing a great job of buying in and fulfilling their roles.

“Really happy for this group and what they have already added to the legacy of this program” he added.

Newport Harbor also received two goals apiece in the final from sophomore Harper Price, sophomore Caitlin Stayt and junior Angelena Peterson.

The Sailors edged No. 3 seeded Los Alamitos 9-8 in the semifinals behind five goals by Chalupnik and three by junior Sophia Del Villar,

Newport Harbor found multiple contributors as it played without Stanford-bound left Avery Montiel (shoulder).

The Sailors opened the tournament with a 10-8 win against Mater Dei on Friday and upset No. 2 seed San Marcos 8-7 in the quarterfinals.

In the finals, they beat a Laguna Beach team that it lost 9-5 to earlier in the week in the Surf League.

Ava Knepper scored three goals and USC committed goalie Lauren Schneider added 11 saves to lead the Breakers (10-5) in the finals.

Laguna Beach knocked off top-seeded Orange Lutheran 10-7 in the semifinals, handing the Lancers (15-1) their first loss. Princeton committed center Charlotte Riches scored five goals for the Breakers en route to earning all-tournament honors.

The Santa Barbara tournament was played for the first time since 2020. The pandemic canceled the event the past two seasons.

Here are the other all-tournament selections: Cleo Washer of Laguna Beach,  Allison Cohen of Orange Lutheran, goalie Lauren Steele of Orange Lutheran, goalie Joey Niz of Los Alamitos, Rachel Kirchner of Foothill, Reagan Weir of Corona del Mar and Maya O’Dea of Long Beach Wilson.

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