Statistics can tell a tale, but they sometimes fail to address the whole story.
Corona del Mar High boys’ soccer coach Damien O’Brien was not interested in the fact that his team produced eight more shot attempts than rival Newport Harbor in the first half of the teams’ Surf League opener on Friday.
O’Brien said he “ripped into” his team at halftime, after the Sea Kings could not pull away in spite of the myriad scoring opportunities they had created.
The Sea Kings eventually found themselves down, but not out, in the first meeting of the Battle of the Bay.
Aidan Holmes scored a pair of goals two minutes apart in the second half, sending the host Sea Kings to a 3-2 victory over the Sailors at Bonita Creek Park.
“That’s what Aidan can do for us,” O’Brien said. “He is one of our star players, and he just needs that confidence to do it every game. We all know he can do it. He just needs to realize himself that he has to be that guy. He’s a solid, solid player.”
The offensive exploits of Holmes were necessary. O’Brien decided to move Holmes up from the midfield to forward with striker Chase Marion gone on a recruiting visit.
Holmes attempted eight shots, putting five on target on the evening. He scored the tying goal in the 61st minute. It came on a great individual effort, as he kicked the ball off defenders twice before sending the ball past Newport Harbor goalkeeper Briant Alvarez, who was screened on the play.
“I think that just kind of shows our team mentality of never giving up, no matter the score,” Holmes said. “I just kept going for the ball, and it paid off. I think that second goal really ignited our team to try to go for the win, and we got it within five minutes.”
Moments later, William Little connected with Holmes on a through ball, and the latter sent a shot off the left post and in for the game-winning goal.
CdM (8-4) opened the scoring in the 13th minute. Jennings Torgelson played the ball across to Hassan Selim, who played the ball off his chest to bring the ball down. With his next touch, he sent the ball into the top of the net.
Although the Sea Kings carried the play throughout the first half, they could not build on the lead.
“That’s been the story of our whole season,” O’Brien said. “I ripped into the boys at halftime, and we’ve been doing it all season. It has come back to haunt us in so many games that we should have been on top of teams.”
Newport Harbor (8-3-1) drew even in the 39th minute on a quick-developing rush. Jack Starnes played the ball ahead to Ethan Federman, who scored to make it 1-1.
Starnes continued to be active on offense from the midfield early in the second half. After missing the net on a couple of shots, Starnes made a run on the left side and crossed the ball in. Zane Weaver slid in an attempt to break up the pass, but the ball went off him and past Wally Korbler (one save) for an own goal. The Sailors took a 2-1 lead in the 48th minute.
“Zane is one of our best defenders, and he never scores own goals, so we just gave him the benefit of the doubt on that, and we just moved on as a team,” Selim said. “We kept our team spirit up, and we just pushed through.”
Alvarez managed to keep his team in the match while facing an onslaught of shots from the Sea Kings in the first half. He finished with seven saves.
“The Battle of the Bay is always the biggest game that we play, so it’s give it everything you got,” Alvarez said. “It’s win it or not. Unfortunately, we lost it this time.
“We play them again. We have to give it everything we have again, and just hope that the outcome is better next time.”
O’Brien felt that winning the first league match meant a lot after the Sea Kings required an at-large berth to get into the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs last season.
“This one is huge for us to get off on the right foot,” O’Brien said. “We’ve got a big, tough game coming against Edison, and last year, we were 6-0 and then we lost two, and then we were 4-0. I think we got a little complacent going into league play last year.
“On Wednesday, we lost to Fountain Valley, and we lost to Marina in the crossover games, so I think it was the wake-up slap in the face that we needed, just not to be complacent going into these games.”
Support our sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.