Palmer a scoring machine for Sailors

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Senior captain excelling in all areas for Newport Harbor, which is off to a hot start in league.

March 29, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High's Alex Palmer is Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week.
Newport Harbor High's Alex Palmer is Daily Pilot… (Don Leach, Daily…)

The biggest crowd in years showed up to Tuesday's Newport Harbor High girls' lacrosse game at Davidson Field.

The league game against Yorba Linda was billed as Newport Harbor's "Game of the Month." The Sailors took care of business, 9-5, and a dance followed at the field.

It didn't last long, though, until the police came.

"It was an outside dance, so we had the DJ and speakers and stuff," Newport Harbor senior captain Alex Palmer said. "It was only about 8:15 or 8:20 [p.m.] when they came. I guess they got some complaints or something.

"Next time, we're going to have the dance in the gym," Palmer added with a laugh.

Shutting down the game of Palmer, though, isn't a task so easily achieved.

The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week has been a scoring machine for the Sailors (7-1). In all eight of their games, she has either led the team outright or tied for the team lead in scoring.


The statistics — 31 goals, 16 ground balls and 20 caused turnovers — speak for themselves. Palmer leads the Sailors in all three categories. And she's doing it efficiently, Coach Matt Armstrong said.

"She's shooting about 60%, which is off the charts," Armstrong said. "Your really good players are shooting 50%."

Palmer, in her fourth year on varsity and third year as captain, is helping Newport Harbor do big things. The Sailors are 3-0 in the Century/Sunset League, tied for first with perennial powerhouse Foothill, ranked No. 1 in Southern California by

Newport Harbor is ranked higher than it has been in the past, No. 15. The Sailors hope to return to the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division playoffs, in which they have not participated in Armstrong's first two years at the helm.

Palmer and her fellow senior captains, defender Jenna Nulty and goalie Cailynn Smethurst, have helped build the program. Smethurst has been the varsity goalie all four years.

The Sailors had a large senior class in 2010-11, but lost more than those players after former Coach Sarah Queener left for a college coaching position at Pomona-Pitzer. Several other girls quit the team, Palmer said.

Armstrong, an English teacher at Harbor who played lacrosse at the University of Michigan, became the man in charge.

"They're the ones who stuck around," he said of his three senior captains. "All three were in my English class as well, which was kind of funny. Before I became coach, I knew them as students."

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