Patient Offense, Stifling Defense Carry Panthers

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Newbury Park became the only visiting team to advance out of Tuesday’s seven first round games, riding a patient offense and a stifling defense to a 9-5 win at Oak Park.

Junior middie Erich Wuestoff scored four goals and junior attack Chasen Colter had two to lead No. 9-seed Newbury Park, which trailed early and didn’t truly put No. 8 Oak Park away until late but nevertheless was in control of this one throughout.

Wuestoff scored three of his goals in the first half, helping Newbury (14-4) to a 5-2 lead. He got his fourth to make it 6-2 to open the second half, but each time the Panthers stretched the lead to four, Oak Park (9-8) answered. Junior middie Brendan Egan scored his second to make it 6-3. After senior Sam Wise scored for Newbury, Egan’s third made it 7-4 with 11 minutes left.

But Newbury’s defense, spearheaded by senior defender Chucky Smith and anchored by goalie Mikey Marinelli, never let Oak Park get comfortable. And the Panthers’ offense was patient and methodical, content to move the ball, run clock and wait for the right opportunity. Moreover, when the Eagles did make a defensive stop, the Panthers’ ride effectively turned Oak Park’s clearing game into a shambles.

While Oak Park managed to stay within theoretical striking distance for much the game, it was clear Newbury was in control. The Panthers avenged last year’s quarterfinal defeat to the Eagles, a double-overtime heartbreaker that included a controversial whistle that took a potential game-winning goal by Newbury off the board. This time, there was no doubt.

Newbury advances to face No. 1 Palos Verdes on Thursday.

Complete playoff bracket

Pre-First-Round Games
El Segundo 17, Brentwood 12
West Ranch 13, Sierra Canyon 12
Palisades 12, Culver City 11, 2 OT

First-Round Games
(1) Palos Verdes 18, (16) West Ranch 3
(9) Newbury Park 9, (8) Oak Park 5

(12) Redondo Union (6-10) at (5) Westlake (14-1), Wednesday, 7 p.m.
(4) Harvard Westlake 12, (13) Chaminade 4

(3) Peninsula 13, (14) El Segundo 1
(6) Thousand Oaks 10, (11) Mira Costa 9

(7) Crespi 9, 10 Agoura (5)
(2) Loyola 19, (15) Palisades 4

Quarterfinals – Thursday
(9) Newbury Park (14-4) at (1) Palos Verdes (14-5), 4:30 p.m.
(12) Redondo Union/(5) Westlake winner at (4) Harvard Westlake (11-7), 5:30 p.m.

(6) Thousand Oaks (13-4) at (3) Peninsula (16-2), 4 p.m.
(7) Crespi (11-6) at (2) Loyola (15-3), 3 p.m.