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Newport Harbor 7
Yorba Linda 3

Sailors hang on at Yorba Linda
Matt Szabo | Daily Pilot

YORBA LINDA — The Newport Harbor High girls’ lacrosse team is trying to do two things this year for the first time in program history.

First would be to win the outright league title in the Century SE League, a combination league with teams from the Century, Sunset and Empire leagues.

The second goal is to win a game in the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division playoffs.

The goals are at least somewhat related. The Sailors can’t afford to slip up in league play, as it could hurt their potential playoff seeding.

So far, though, Coach Matt Armstrong’s squad is two for two in league.

Newport Harbor withstood a second-half Yorba Linda rally and beat the Mustangs, 7-3, on Thursday evening at Yorba Linda High.

The Sailors improved to 4-4, and 2-0 in league. They believe they’re the league favorites after sharing the title with Esperanza last season.

“Our goal is to not lose a single league game,” senior co-captain Rylie Siegfried said.

Part of it is that they have a varied offensive attack. Siegfried and junior co-captain Katie Hendrix each scored two goals Thursday, with juniors Sarah Farley, Heather Roberts and Laura Tran adding one goal each.

Sophomore Adena Rothbard had two assists and Hendrix also had a helper for Newport Harbor, which has a new assistant coach, Kaleigh Gibbons, in the mix. Gibbons played college lacrosse at Monmouth and also is an assistant women’s coach at Chapman University.

“We’ve put in a lot more plays this year that have been helping us on the offensive end,” said senior defender Jordan Rausch, the third and final co-captain. “I think Kaleigh has definitely taken us from a good program to way better, to almost a great program. She’s really helped us a ton.”

Newport Harbor, ranked No. 11 in Southern California by, appeared in control most of the way against Yorba Linda (5-4, 0-2). The Sailors led at halftime, 3-0, behind a shining defensive effort that included Rausch and fellow seniors Sophia Riggan and Maxine Aiello, as well as juniors Jillian Rosten and Hayden Allen and senior goalie Hannah Sanders (three saves). Riggan, Rothbard and sophomore Lysie Kenney shared the Newport team lead with three ground balls.

The lead was 5-0 when Roberts ran in and scored with 21:10 remaining in the game. But Yorba Linda scored three straight goals, the last on a free-position shot by Natalie Dicken, to cut its deficit to 5-3 with 5:52 remaining. Armstrong called timeout.

“When we were getting the ball we were forcing it, which was causing us to lose it,” Farley said. “So when we were getting on defense, we were all tired. After those couple of goals, we called a timeout and we just talked about slowing down. Once we slowed down, I don’t think they got another goal. We had the ball most of the time and we got a few more goals.”

Farley controlled the ensuing draw, which also helped. Hendrix, who was recently named to the Girls’ OC Lacrosse U.S. National Team for the second straight year, scored twice in the final two minutes to close the game out.

“I wasn’t too happy with how they kind of snuck back into it close to the end there,” Armstrong said. “But aside from that, I’m pleased with the way our girls worked. They mostly executed well. We were in control of the game the whole time.

“If we just do our job, improve every day and peak at the right time, we’re going to have every chance to have an epic season. [Advancing to the second round] is definitely a goal. We’d love to see that second game. In the past few years we’ve finished No. 15 or 16, and so we play a No. 1 or 2 team [in the first round], and that’s a tough game.”

The Sailors play next in a nonleague game at Los Alamitos on March 31, and that’s one that Armstrong said he’s excited about.

“We haven’t played them since they left our league, and we’ve gotten a lot better,” he said.

Newport Harbor will continue to strive to improve. Siegfried, a four-year varsity player, said she’s already seen a lot of growth from the Sailors in the first three weeks of the season.

“I think we’ve become a stronger team defensively, and a little more organized on offense as well,” she said.

Copyright © 2016, Daily Pilot

Newport Harbor 9
Yorba Linda 0

JV PLAYER OF THE GAME: Hannah Shepherd