Girls’ Lacrosse: Sailors lose lead late

The Newport Harbor High girls’ lacrosse team showed its St. Patrick’s Day spirit Tuesday, wearing green socks with leprechauns on them as well as green ribbons in the players’ hair.

The luck of the Irish, though, wasn’t on the Sailors’ side in a nonleague game against Mission Viejo.

The visiting Diablos scored the final seven goals and rallied for a 12-7 win at Davidson Field, handing the Sailors their third straight loss.

Ashley Rende and Marissa Meissner each scored three goals for Mission Viejo, which had lost to Newport Harbor, 5-3, in the Rose Bowl Jamboree green division championship game on March 7.

“They had quite a few really good, strong runs,” Newport Harbor Coach Matt Armstrong said. “They really beat our defense a couple of times ...Mission brought it in the second half. I mean, you can’t deny it. They scored nine goals in the second half, and you can’t sneeze at that.”

Senior captain Daniela Vazquez had three goals and an assist for Newport Harbor. Junior Brittany McCoy scored twice for the Sailors (2-3), while sophomore Katie Hendrix and junior team captain Rylie Siegfried added one goal each.

Senior goalie Montana Mattox made 10 saves for Newport Harbor, and the tall Siegfried won four draw controls. Vazquez led the team with three ground balls, while junior midfielder Emily Lukosky had two. Senior Mia Bagiu, the Sailors’ other team captain, helped anchor the defensive effort.

Vazquez said that one difference from the first meeting with Mission Viejo is that the Sailors are trying out a new defense, called “strong.” It was effective in the first half, which ended with Newport Harbor holding a 5-3 lead.

Things got testy in the physical game early in the second half. First the game was delayed as the referees tried to get the yellow card situation in order. Newport scorekeepers momentarily claimed, incorrectly, that Mission Viejo’s Maryn Macha had received a yellow card in the first half.

“I pinkie swear, I’ve never gone out of the game,” Macha, who scored twice in the game for the visitors, said to the referee.

A minute later, the referee stopped the game after a Newport fan yelled that she should “let the teams play and put your whistle in your pocket.”

The referee ran over to Armstrong, telling him that he was in charge of the Sailors’ fans. Armstrong told the Newport fans to make no more comments to the referees.

Despite the game’s physical nature, the Sailors seemed to be in control. They still had a two-goal lead, at 7-5, when McCoy scored off Vazquez’s assist with 12:36 left in the game. It wouldn’t last long. Newport Harbor wouldn’t score again.

Makena Gordon stole the ball from a Newport defender and scored for the Diablos (3-1). Rende then tied the score with 11:34 left.

Mission Viejo would score three more goals in the next three minutes to seize control.

Armstrong hopes that a tough nonleague schedule has prepared his team well for Century/Sunset League play, which begins Thursday at Valencia of Placentia. The Sailors have improved in league every year in Armstrong’s four-year tenure, from sixth in 2012 to fifth in 2013 to second place last year.

The league champion from last year, powerhouse Foothill, is no longer in the league, Armstrong said.

“Our expectation and hope is to win league, and if all goes well, go 8-0,” Armstrong said. “Certainly this year, I think that we have a legitimate shot at winning league. But no one’s going to lay down for us. We’re going to have to fight through it all.”

He said Esperanza likely will be a tough challenge in league. The Sailors play the Aztecs twice, at home on March 24 and on the road on April 21.