All games at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center, Irvine
CORONA DEL MAR (26-4) VS. NEWPORT HARBOR (24-6), 6:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Back Bay rivals meet for the fifth time this season, and for the second consecutive season in the Division 1 finals. The season series is split, 2-2. The teams split two games before Greeks transfers Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis became eligible and split the two when the teams were full-strength.
Newport Harbor rallied last season to defeat Corona del Mar in the finals, 8-7. The victory also improved the Sailors to 2-0 against Corona del Mar in CIF Division 1 finals. Newport Harbor edged Corona del Mar, 6-5, in overtime in the 2008 Division 1 final.
The Sea Queens are 0-3 overall in Division 1 finals but own five section titles in other divisions.
Both teams pulled upsets in the semifinals to reach the finals. Newport Harbor stunned top-seeded Santa Barbara, 8-5, while Corona del Mar rallied past No. 2 seeded Foothill, 10-9, in an overtime thriller.
Both teams also have blended new talent with established standouts. Corona del Mar’s season-long quest to find chemistry with the Haralabidis twins has been achieved while Newport Harbor quietly developed new players to watch such as Christina O’Beck, Carolyn Smith and rising sophomore Rachel Whitelegge. Those three now match well with Newport’s Big 3 of Carly Christian, Elissia Schilling and Avery Peterson.
Both teams are strong defensively. Newport Harbor is anchored by goalie Cleo Harrington while CdM counters with Erica Weed in cage. The Sea Queens’ 2-meter defense has received a boost from Cassidy Papa, an attacker who has guarded center more this season, along with IoannaHarlabidis.
The differences between the teams surface on offense. Newport Harbor features a strong center in Schilling (UCLA signee) while Corona del Mar counters with a potent counterattack led by Ally McCormick and Stephania Harlabidis. Newport Harbor’s outside shooting impressed against Santa Barbara.
On the injury front, CdM played without standout freshman Maddie Musselman in the semifinals. Her hand was seen wrapped after game.