LOS ALAMITOS- In a rematch of last year’s first round playoff matchup, No. 13 Newport Harbor was able to keep the game close on a new look No. 4 Santa Margarita squad. However, it wasn’t enough as the Eagles took the 10-8 win at Los Alamitos High School Saturday morning.
Prior to the season beginning, head coach Paddy Chester preached a more balanced offensive attack from the Eagles this season and he got a good taste of that with Tyler Wrightson (3g), Jack Allender (3g), and Ryan You (2g, 1a) wracking up three points apiece.
“They’ve played together for two seasons and throughout so I know when they click, they click,” Chester said. “They like to play together, so expectations of my team are very high because I know what they can bring. So yeah, I expect them to click straightaway.”
Allender got the scoring going with two goals in a row to begin the first quarter to give Santa Margarita an early 2-0 lead, before a Newport goal by Rhett Farmer followed by a late quarter goal by Wrightson gave the Eagles a 3-1 lead after one quarter of play.
The second quarter, however, was a different story. Newport Harbor flipped the script and outscored the Eagles 3-1, resulting in a 4-4 tie at halftime. Each team showed early season jitters as evidenced by seven turnovers apiece at the break.
“Rust and sloppiness of having seven guys out sick for the last 10 days lead to poor execution,” Chester said.
Not all the Santa Margarita sloppiness was self induced. A relentless Newport Harbor defense applied pressure throughout and finished with 15 takeaways.
The third quarter belonged to Eagles, who again outscored the Sailors 3-1 in the frame. Two of those goals were Wrightson’s, who moved from attack to the midfield line and added speed to their game late. One of his goals was an impressive behind the back fling shot that loudly pumped up Santa Margarita’s sideline.
“I was going down the field and didn’t see the slide, so I just went for it and it went in,” Wrightson said.
The teams traded three goals apiece in the final frame, giving the Eagles the 10-8 season opening win. After the game, Wrightson emphasized the need to step up with some of his teammates on offense in order to sustain the Eagles successes moving forward.
“There’s no Quentin (Buchman), we all have to contribute to have a good offense,” Wrightson said. “Over the summer, me and Allender talked a little bit about how we can lead the offense. Because without a leader, it’s going to be tough to get tough wins. Him and I have been working together and just bringing everyone together.”
Connor Kentros (1g, 2a) had a solid offensive performance as well, and Nate Obergfell (1g) notched his first goal on the varsity level for Santa Margarita. Defensively, Connor Carr had eight ground balls and Kai Solomon led the team with three takeaways.
Garrett Rovazzini had a standout performance for the Sailors between the pipes with an impressive 14 saves.
Offensively, the Sailors had a pretty balanced offensive output with Farmer (1g, 2a) Aidan Goltz (2g) Jackson Sawall (2g), Michael Morrison (2a), Hutton Wooters (1g), Braydon Butler (1g), and Bennett Cox (1g) tailing points.
Newport Harbor will continue their season Tuesday against San Clemente and Santa Margarita will host defending LA/OC champion Loyola (LA) on Wednesday.