The last time Newport Harbor Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team played Los Alamitos three weeks ago it suffered its worst loss (19-9) since its Head Coach Mark Todd was formerly at the helm of Corona Del Mar Seakings first Championship run back in 2008.That Friday evening was the first day of the Sailors Spring Break but the Griffins had the visitors wishing they left earlier because their 10 goals against them in the opening quarter had been unprecedented in this Sunset League match up.
Last Friday night looked to be much of the same as the visiting Griffins scored the first goal and then a second from the ball getting checked out of a Sailor defender’s stick in front of the crease and rolled into the goal. It looked as though the Sailors bad luck would continue until Junior Attackman Alex Fuller split a double team and scored with 4:30 remaining. Los Al quickly answered with a nice inside feed from Tyler Miller to brother Cody Miller with a quick-stick goal. As the fans counted down the final seconds in the first, Senior midfielder and SMU commit Chris Buchanan ran from top of the box to below the goal line and drove to the crease to score and bring the Sailors with in 1 as they ended the quarter 3-2.
Within 17 seconds of the first face off in the second quarter Los Al’s Brandon Ezell picked up a ground ball and swept right across the top and shot to the backside pipe against the sophomore lefty goaltender John Jasper to put Los Alamitos up 4-2. However the Sailors didn’t go away because with 9:30 remaining Senior Attackman and Cal Poly San Louis Obispo commit Kole Escher shot a rocket from 15 yards out to the top shelf. Then the penalties began as a Los Al defenseman got called for a three minute non-releasable penalty for leaving his feet on a cross check to the head of freshman midfielder Alex Pearce who had just out dodged two Los Al defenders at the midfield on a clear. This is when the Sailors took advantage of the situation as Fuller then scored left handed from 14 yards out and that goal was immediately followed up by another goal to the bottom right corner from Escher on a feed he received from Senior Face-off middie and Indiana University commit Nathan Chaness. Then after a Los Al time called a time out on their offensive end the Sailors’ Todd called for a stick check against a defenseman with an illegal cross that not only took the ball from the Griffins offense nullifying their final play before the quarters end, but it also set them a man down. The Sailors were able to put one in and go into the quarter up 6-4.
Then as the 3rd quarter opened it was Chaness again who took the opening draw himself and passed to Fuller who threw back across his body to a cutting Escher who laid it up to the back top right stick side corner just 8 seconds into the second half giving the Sailors a 7-4 lead. Again another cross check penalty led to another extra man opportunity where Newport Harbor’s other attackman Junior John Mooers took a flip pass from Fuller and then buried it in the coffin corner to see the Sailors double up the Griffins 8-4. With three minutes left in the quarter Newport drew a 30 second technical foul and Ezell finished again simultaneously ending the Griffins scoring drought since his last goal early in the second quarter bringing the score to its final count of the third period 8-5.
As the final quarter began the Griffins frustration showed as they incurred another cross check to the head and gave the Sailors another man up opportunity. This time it was Esher now shooting with laser accuracy zapping the backside right corner off a feed from Senior midfielder Josh Ford.
One more Los Al goal made the score 9-6 and left the mythical flying lion eagles clinging to life. After and up and down battle for possession repeatedly changing sides, it was Andy Barnett again who scored on an open field break away that rolled just inside the pipe and left leg of Jasper who had stifled the visitors for much of the middle quarters. Newport broke into double digit scoring with 2:25 remaining all while the Sailors held off the very potent Los Alamitos offense. The final insurance goal came as Alex Fuller stepped down from the crease to receive an inside feed from Kole Escher whose hustle play to chase down Fullers previous shot wide just seconds before had set Escher up for the assist and registered Fullers hat trick for the night.
The Sailors victory over the Griffins shows they are now settled after their rocky start with 2 losses in overtime and one on the final seconds of play prior to their break. Their home field is where they hope to win their last 4 games straight over all conference opponents something Los Alamitos had already accomplished in the conference until last Friday night’s loss at Newport Harbor. The Sailors next 2 conference games against Marina and Edison are on Wednesday and Friday respectively at Davidson Field. With victories in each the Sailors can go 8-8 to finish out the year and possibly slip into the playoffs.
–Special to MaxLaxOC