NEWPORT BEACH — After two matches in the young season, the Corona del Mar High boys' soccer team searched for its first win. Coach George Larsen said the team lacked energy in both contests.
In the third match on the schedule, Larsen expected a turnaround. The Battle of the Bay always seems to bring out the best in the Sea Kings under Larsen.
The Sea Kings traveled to Newport Harbor on Wednesday and they ran away with a 3-0 win in the rivalry match.
"We just seemed like we woke up in general and it translated into a well-played game," said Larsen, who has led CdM to a 3-0-1 record against the Sailors in his four seasons in charge of the Sea Kings.
Eight minutes into the match, CdM (1-1-1) went ahead and never looked back.
Conor Roche, the team's leading goal scorer from last season, finally found the back of the net this season. After a corner kick, the senior striker knocked in a loose ball deep in the box with his foot.
The goal matched CdM's total from its previous two matches. The goal also turned out to be the first of two for Roche against the Sailors.
One goal is all CdM really needed to hand Newport Harbor its first setback of the season. The Sea Kings' defense shut down the Sailors (2-1-0), who went into the evening having averaged three goals in their first two matches.
Defenders Jay Damon, Chris Von Der Ahe and Daniel McCabe stopped any Newport Harbor threat, making goalkeeper Hagen Truninger's night an easy one. Truninger only had to make a half-dozen saves to record the shutout.
The Sailors weren't at full strength.
Coach Juan Mares said Newport Harbor went into the match without a couple of standout players, midfielder Henry Ramirez and Robert Boullon, who has two goals. Mares said Ramirez, who trained with El Salvador's under-17 national team in the summer, hasn't been cleared to play because of a personal medical condition, and Boullon was out with an ingrown toenail.
"We just need someone to put [the ball] in the net," said Mares, who expects Ramirez and Boullon to return in time for Friday, when the Sailors open play in the two-day Irvine tournament.
The Sea Kings also start a two-day tournament on Friday. They open the JSerra tournament against the host school. Other schools in the tournament include Long Beach Millikan, the defending CIF Southern Section Division 1 champion, and Aliso Niguel, which reached the second round of the Division 1 playoffs last year.
Early on, Corona del Mar has been on the road, playing a tough schedule against the likes of San Clemente, ranked No. 4 in the Division 1 poll, Estancia and Newport Harbor. The Sea Kings' first match at home in league will be Jan. 9, when they open their Pacific Coast League title defense against University.
"I like to load up the preseason [schedule]," said Larsen, who also has CdM playing at Mater Dei and at Tesoro next week. "I don't really care about the rankings or the record of the team. I pretty much coach to get these kids ready for league and the postseason, if we're lucky enough to get there."
With the talent Corona del Mar boasts, the program looks like playoff team. The team has two legit goal scorers in Roche and Jack Novak.
Both are long, with Novak being the tallest at 6-foot-4. The senior striker can move well for his size.
On his first couple of chances in the first half, Newport Harbor keeper Osiel Porcayo turned Novak away. He leaped to make sure Novak's left-footed blast, from 25 yards out, went over the crossbar. A couple of minutes later, there was Porcayo getting his gloves on Novak's header from close range.
Two minutes into the second half, Novak beat Porcayo. Hunter Cullen took the corner kick, and the ball bounced through the defense, finding Novak's foot. Novak struck the ball, which hit the back post.
"To give up three goals on three set plays is just ridiculous on our part," said Mares, whose team allowed Roche to score right before halftime on a long free kick by Damon. "I felt the game was even. We had some chances to score [and] they had some chances to score in the run of the play, but they are a big, strong team.
"For the seniors this year, they have not had the Bell [trophy] in their high school career. Here [was] an opportunity. We had the best start to the season [in my three seasons as coach], two wins in a row. We felt we had the momentum, but I don't think these players realize how hard they have to work to really want something."