Boys soccer: Newport blanks Falcons

Barry Faulkner

SANTA ANA - It will be a while until his next club team practice,

but Newport Harbor High junior forward Jose Serpas will certainly have a

lot to talk about.

Serpas scored both Newport Harbor High goals to lead the visiting

Sailors to a 2-0 victory over a Santa Ana Valley squad that included many

of his club teammates in the first round of the CIF Southern Section

Division II boys soccer playoffs Friday.

Serpas' two goals, both in the second half, equaled his regular-season

total. They also propelled the Sailors (10-7-2) into Tuesday's 3 p.m.

second round against visiting Los Alamitos (23-1-1), the No. 1 seed. Los

Al earned a 4-0 win over Valencia Friday and has now outscored its

opponents, 68-11.

Serpas converted with the help of two teammates to open the scoring in

the 61st minute. Marco Camberos began the sequence with a through ball to

streaking teammate Will Guzman. Falcons goalie Luis Aguilar sprinted out

to try to beat Guzman to the ball, but the Sailor sophomore slid to reach

it with his foot. The ball caromed off Aguilar directly in front of the

open net and Serpas poked it home for all the Sailors would need.

Serpas provided insurance in the 77th minute, dribbling in along the

end line and hooking a drive behind a surprised Aguilar, who thought he

had eliminated any scoring angle.

"I saw a little opening and I took it," said Serpas, whose scoring

outburst helped the Tars earn their first postseason triumph since 1997.

"I thought (Serpas) was a little timid in the first half," said

Newport Coach Kevin Esparza, whose squad outshot the hosts, 16-8. "We

created some chances in the first half, but I didn't think our forwards

were active enough. We told them at halftime we wanted more activity up

front and we also pushed our midfielders up to create some pressure. We

felt like if we put some pressure on their back line, they would make

some mistakes."

Newport, the Sea View League runner-up, had the better of play most of

the game, including nearly all of the first half.

But the Falcons, who finished second in the Empire League and are

perennial playoff qualifiers, according to Coach Adnan Bayati, came out

strong after intermission.

Valley produced the first four shots of the second half, within the

first 13 minutes after the break, equaling its first-half total.

But sophomore Newport keeper Hector Campos, as well as senior sweeper

Kevin Campos, senior stopper Brandon Gould, and sophomore fullbacks Joel

Walker and Matt Tracy, helped maintain the scoreless deadlock.

Hector Campos finished with four saves, including a spectacular diving

stop in the 17th minute, to help the Tars post their fourth shutout of

the season, their third in their last seven games.

After withstanding a Falcon flurry, Newport began creating the

pressure Esparza talked about at halftime. And, after the first goal, it

appeared Valley lost some intensity.

By extending their season, the Sailors figure to be back at full

strength Tuesday. Esparza said senior Tyson Wahl (back injury) will,

barring a setback, play against the Griffins.

Senior starter Redge Bendheim and senior Adam Kerns are also expected

back after both missed Friday's contest.

"We should be back at full strength for the first time in a while,"

Esparza said. "I felt pretty comfortable coming in here that we could get

through to the second round."

Newport's dominance was also apparent in the Sailors' 9-1 edge in

corner kicks.

Esparza said he will try to assemble a scouting report for Los

Alamitos, but noted the home-field advantage (the Tars play on a football

field, which is smaller than a regulation soccer field) will help them

combat the Griffins' supposed speed.

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