COSTA MESA — The girls' third- and fourth-grade bronze division is an interesting one at the Daily Pilot Cup.
Many are dabbling in "the beautiful game" for the first time. But that didn't stop Newport Coast Elementary from starting strong in its pool-play game Thursday night against Kaiser.
Alisa Tognoli scored in the game's very first minute for Newport Coast.
Then, teammate Jessica Treska scored in the first minute of the second half to again give the Coyotes the lead.
Tognoli would score again later, and Newport Coast would hold on for a 3-1 victory in its tournament opener at Davis Elementary.
"I thought Kaiser played a great game too," Newport Coast Coach John Tognoli said. "Most of these girls, a lot of them, haven't played soccer before. For them to come together, the first time together on a big field, I thought they showed tremendous heart. I thought they played a great game."
Newport Coast, which has already clinched a quarterfinal berth by virtue of its guaranteed top-two finish in Pool D, plays Mariners in its second and final pool-play game at 5:45 p.m. Friday at Davis.
The tournament ends for Kaiser, which went winless in its two games. But the Knights also had their positives. Melanie Martinez scored in the 20th minute for Kaiser, after the Newport Coast defense failed to clear a ball.
Sophie Harlan and Olivia Swain also had nice runs up the field in the second half. On one of Swain's runs, she brushed off an uncalled elbow to the back, setting up a scoring opportunity for Kaiser.
It was also a good opportunity for Kaiser's five coaches. Emily Fay, Cooper Peters, Trent Campbell, Lindzy Konrad and Byron Gutierrez are all students at Newport Harbor High.
"I think it's a great experience," said Fay, a freshman at Newport Harbor. "A lot of [the players] didn't know to play. Everything was new; they didn't know any of the rules. It was a good experience for them to come out."
Newport Coast just proved to be too tough. Goalies Isabella Walsh and Kimia Malkami helped anchor the team's defense.
"Tara Afshar is our defensive stopper," John Tognoli said. "She's an AYSO player, and not too many people get by Tara. She's tough as nails. Ivy [Hollander] played well in the first half on defense, and Bridget [Anderson], she played well both halves on defense."
Tara Zadeh, Ashley Krantz, Chloe Mackel, Sophia Pearce, Monali Khoyilar and Sabrina Montaseri also contributed for Newport Coast. Hollander and Mackel are more experienced in softball, where they are teammates for Newport-Mesa.
Morgan Lamond and Lauren Andrews combined for five saves in goal for Kaiser, which also was led by Savannah Armijo, Michelle Velazquez, Isabella Cryzalesui, Casey Keeler, Isabella Garcia and Alondra Sanchez.