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Newport Harbor boys' lacrosse: Sailors turn season around

Newport Harbor is on four-game win streak, which includes huge victory over Sunset League leader Los Alamitos.

April 29, 2014|By Steve Virgen
  • Kole Escher, left, leads Newport Harbor High with 40 goals. He's trying to break the school record for most goals in a season, which is 49, with two games left in the regular season.
Kole Escher, left, leads Newport Harbor High with 40 goals.… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Early in the season, adversity struck the Newport Harbor High boys' lacrosse team. During the first five games, the Sailors lost a starter to injury each contest, Coach Mark Todd said.

There were some broken collarbones to some players, Todd said, as well as a broken hand to talented freshman midfielder Chandler Pierce, who was lost for the season.

It all became challenging for the Sailors, who stumbled early in the Sunset League season as well, as some players recovered from injury and others left for spring-break trips.

But that is all in the past, and the story is now entirely different for Newport Harbor, which is on a four-game winning streak and has the momentum and confidence that it will end the regular season with six straight wins.

"The kids are really believing in each other," said Todd, whose team is 6-8, 4-2 in league as it enters its game against Marina Wednesday night at 7 at Davidson Field. "They didn't necessarily have that but now they know each of their capabilities. They have progressed physically and mentally."

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Don't let the Sailors' record fool you. They lost to Trabuco Hills in the final second, and suffered overtime losses to St. John's of Houston and Mater Dei.

The Sailors believed they showed they can reach the potential with victories over Huntington Beach, 7-5, and league-leader Los Alamitos, 11-8, last week. Those were teams that beat Newport Harbor during the first round of league play. The Griffins smoked the Sailors by a 10-goal margin back then, when Newport Harbor was not at full strength.

But the Sailors exacted revenge Friday and dealt Los Al its first Sunset League loss in front of an electric crowd at Davidson.

"It was definitely fandemonium," Todd said. "Our crowd has grown, despite our record."

The Griffins didn't appear too pleased with the Sailors' flair and determination, Todd said.

"[The Griffins] were definitely chippy and not happy," he said. "Our transition game frustrated them a lot and put them in the penalty box a lot. And our man-up offense was really clicking on Friday night."

Now the Sailors' confidence is riding high. Their ability to believe in each other has made a difference. Overcoming adversity has also given them a boost.

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