Newport Harbor Staves Off Santa Margarita in a Nail-biter, March 14th, 2017

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Newport Harbor – 10
Santa Margarita – 9

Rancho Santa Margarita, March 14 – It was a game of momentum as Newport Harbor built a lead, Santa Margarita made the come-back, and the visiting Sailors held strong to put a tough victory on ice.

Just over a minute into the game, Newport freshman attacker Caroline Farley rolled the crease, dodged twice against a double team, and ripped a shot to give her visiting Tars the early lead. Less than a minute later, the Eagles’ senior midfielder and draw specialist, Erin Dibernardo, converted a free position shot from the center hash to even up the match. Newport senior Laura Tran answered a minute later with a center-hash free position of her own, giving the Sailors a lead they would not relinquish. Just before the twenty minute mark, senior Katie Hendrix dodged through pressure on a free position and gave her team the 3-1 advantage. On the next possession, SMCHS junior Aidan Pike slipped through the Newport defense, received a dump pass from Dibernardo, and shot to bring the Eagles back to within one.

Newport answered less than a minute later, with junior Adena Rothbard pounding the cage with a hard free position shot. The home team looked as if they would come back to within a goal off a nice drive, but an off-ball attacker made illegal contact and Newport was awarded the ball. In the possession that followed, Tran earned a free position shot, made a deft move around a defender, and shot the ball with poise to put the Sailors up, 5-2. As the half progressed, sophomore goalie Jade Rettig heated up and denied a number of tough shots, one of which turned into a beautiful transition goal fed from Tran to Farley the younger. The Tar defense, anchored by Jill Rosten, Hayden Allen, Amber Skytte, and Delaney Knipp, held steadfast for an extended portion of the half as their team built a 7-2 lead. The final goal of the run came as Rothbard fed a streaking Hendrix in transition for the emphatic shot and goal.

Moments later, SMCHS junior goalie Victoria Hoffman denied a potent shot from Hendrix. Soon, Santa Margarita came back on offense, settled the ball, and earned a free position, which sophomore Katelyn Murphy buried to end the NHHS run.  At halftime, Newport led 7-3.

In the second half, Dibernardo continued to dominate on the draw, and just over a minute into the half junior Sidney Ruiz took advantage of a defender out of position, rolled the crease, and narrowed her team’s deficit to three. The home team continued to press, but found themselves offside. The ball was awarded to Hendrix who passed to Rothbard, who passed to senior Sarah Farley, who fed her sister for the quick strike and the 8-4 lead. The teams battled back-and-forth, until Rothbard broke the mini-stalemate with a signature face-dodge and shot.

From here, the Eagles came back strong and built a run of four goals from Dibernardo (assisted by Pike), Murphy (off a ground ball and drive), Murphy (assisted in transition by Dibernardo), and Dibernardo (off a center-hash free position).  Just like that, in a matter of three minutes, the SMCHS was within one of the Sailors. The Newport defense regrouped, stopped the bleeding, and went back on the offensive.  With just over nine minutes to go, Farley the elder earned a free position and dodged through crashing defenders to put NHHS up by two. For the next several minutes, the teams went back and forth, with Newport earning a few key steals off good defense and solid riding, and Santa Margarita surviving several shots on an extended Sailor possession. Ultimately, Pike found the ball in transition, brought it through X, and rolled the crease for the home team’s ninth goal.

The 10-9 Newport lead would hold for the final 5:51, as Newport earned the draw control but then turned it over on a freak trip and fall. SMCHS turned it back over on a hard NHHS crash, and Newport worked their offense to burn a few minutes before the Eagles forced another turnover—which they lost in transition. Newport called a timeout with just under two minutes remaining, came back to the field, and ran the clock with an effective stall against double-team pressure to seal the one-goal victory.