"Of course that's on our mind, but we're not playing for last year," Montebello Coach Ken Clements said. "This is a big game this year. I felt like whoever won this game is probably No. 1 [in Division I], based on the game matchups so far."
Newport Harbor (7-4) was close the whole way. After Jillian Chiapuzio won the game's opening sprint, Sarah Roberts scored at two meters on a pass from Mimi Bury, giving Newport the early 1-0 lead with 6:31 left in the first quarter.
But Montebello (8-1) scored three successive goals — two of them coming on steals.
"We threw the ball away too many times, and that led to their goals," Sailors Coach Bill Barnett said. "I thought the physical effort was there. We just didn't pass the ball well and didn't execute well."
The Sailors found some of that physical play from Bury. They battled back, eventually taking a 5-4 lead midway through the second quarter on a standout effort from Bury. After struggling to gain position for several seconds, she spun around Montebello's Nancy Ruano and scored with 2:50 left.
Bury, who factored in six of the Sailors' goals with her four goals and two assists, said it was tough preparing for the Oilers. Montebello was one of the few top teams to not play in last weekend's Holiday Cup hosted by Newport and CdM.
"But it's still pretty early in the season," she said. "There's still room for growing and improvement."
The score was tied 5-all at halftime, and the Oilers' Sarah Orozco had the third quarter's only goal. Bury scored with 4:51 left in the game to even it at 6-all, but Montebello's Diana Romero scored a six-on-five goal less than a minute later to give her team the lead again.
Priscilla Orozco added another six-on-five goal with 2:26 left, putting Montebello up, 8-6, and making Bury's score with 12 seconds left irrelevant.
Morgan Vickers had five saves for the Tars, and Marisa Cottam, Allyssa Peterson and Roberts each had two steals.
Newport Harbor 7
Score by Quarters
Montebello -- P. Orozco 3, Ruano 2, Romero 2, S. Orozco 1. Saves -- Connell 5.
Newport -- Bury 4, Roberts 2, Chiapuzio 1. Saves -- Vickers 5.