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CdM boys’ soccer ends slide with win over rival Newport Harbor

Corona del Mar's Ari Kanazawa runs to the sidelines to celebrate a goal with teammates during the Battle of the Bay.
Corona del Mar’s Ari Kanazawa runs to the sidelines to celebrate a goal with teammates during the Battle of the Bay boys’ soccer game against Newport Harbor on Monday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
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A season that started with great promise for the Corona del Mar High boys’ soccer team suddenly had a great deal of pressure.

After riding an explosive offense to a season-opening five-game winning streak, the Sea Kings fell into a prolonged slump, earning just two wins over the next five weeks.

Corona del Mar took a big step toward solidifying its playoff hopes on Monday, coming away with a 3-0 win over Newport Harbor in the Battle of the Bay game at home.

Newport Harbor's Nate Simmons (8) and Corona del Mar's Ryan Peloso (12) contest a throw-in on Monday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Sea Kings had been outscored 10-5 in their last four games, a stretch that had seen them fall off the pace in the Surf League. A win over their crosstown rivals in Sunset Conference crossover play served its purpose, as it marked the first of two wins that CdM (8-5-3) needed over the final two weeks to ensure a .500 record for postseason at-large berth consideration.

“Recently, we’ve been leaking a lot of goals,” CdM coach Eddie Bairam said. “A few defensive errors, but we had a really good conversation, and we worked on talking about our organization and our discipline. The boys were fantastic with that today.

“I think Matt Wood, Colin Pene and Luca Fasulo, those guys in particular, were tremendous in organizing that back line, and Luke Ianni, as well, in the midfield. They’re just so disciplined and denied them a lot of space.”

Corona del Mar players celebrate a win in the Battle of the Bay boys' soccer game against Newport Harbor on Monday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

In a match that was 1-0 deep into the second half, the final scoreline probably did not tell the whole story. The celebrations on those late goals, however, likely did.

Ari Kanazawa doubled the Sea Kings’ lead to 2-0 after receiving a pass on the right wing from Ianni in the 70th minute, then made a beeline to the stands to share the moment with friends.

Later in stoppage time, Gavin Karam had a shot blocked, but Jonathan Cheng ran onto the loose ball and fired a shot into the top left corner. This time, the CdM sideline emptied onto the field to celebrate the goal and the inevitable win.

Newport Harbor's Jason Hernandez (18) and Corona del Mar's Ari Kanazawa (10) try to gain possession of a loose ball.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“That’s my favorite place to receive the ball, on either side,” Kanazawa said. “That’s one of the skills I use the most, a little kick fake. I had to do it because it was a big game, and I wanted to excite myself, my team, the fans.”

Karam got the ball rolling for CdM, producing the game’s first goal after intercepting a pass in the midfield. His shot swerved like a knuckleball, dropping under the crossbar to beat Newport Harbor goalkeeper Joshua Flores (two saves) in the 10th minute.

“I kind of came across it to try to get the knuckleball to stay because the keeper was a little bit closer to the line, so I kind of had to get it up and over,” Karam said. “Luckily, it went our way and [we] got a good win.”

Corona del Mar's Gavin Karam (16) and Newport Harbor's James Evans battle for a loose ball at midfield on Monday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Newport Harbor (12-4-2) had its best scoring chance in the 16th minute. Marlon Cortes, who showcased his ability to sustain runs, worked in tandem with Oliver Hobin inside the 18-yard box. Hobin fired away, but Wood (two saves) took the shot off his chest and fell on the rebound.

“I thought in the past couple of games, we’ve been a little unlucky,” Karam said. “Just haven’t been falling our way. Luckily, we have a good group of guys in the back. Luca Fasulo is a really good captain. I think it was just another mistake. Luckily, it didn’t go in. Matt made a great save.”

The Newport Harbor defense, helmed by center backs Luke Deisner and Ryan Magnani, kept the game within striking distance, until Kanazawa’s late marker provided the breathing room.

“I’m happy with the way the boys played,” Newport Harbor coach Ignacio Cid said. “I like the way that they passed the ball. I like everything about them. I love these boys. I’ve been coaching these kids since they were like 8 years old, most of them. … I’m just extremely proud that they’re having a great senior year.”

Corona del Mar goalkeeper Matt Wood makes a save during the Battle of the Bay boys' soccer game against Newport Harbor.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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