If you were at Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex Friday for the fifth- and sixth-grade girls’ Silver Division pool-play match between Huntington Beach Pegasus School and Newport Coast, you probably had no trouble finding it.
Both teams stood out from the crowd wearing blinding neon jerseys. The Newport Coast Coyotes’ neon yellow jerseys were just a shade brighter than the Pegasus Thunder’s scorching neon green ones.
By game’s end, it was the Coyotes who stood out the most, getting a 2-0 victory over the Thunder to improve to 1-1 in the youth soccer tournament. They play Costa Mesa St. John the Baptist Saturday at 10:15 a.m. at Costa Mesa High in the final game of pool play.
Gianna Macafee and Defne Dusi each scored for Newport Coast. Kaitlyn Hernandez and Willow Boyd combined in goal for the shutout. Dusi also added an assist on Macafee’s opener.
Both teams played shorthanded with the Thunder fielding only eight of eleven players and the Coyotes nine of eleven.
Thunder coach Sara Ali was happy to see her team secure its first win.
“They communicated well, and they worked hard,” she said. “We were short players, but they never gave up.”
Newport Coast scored first in the sixth minute. Macafee passed to Dusi, who found Macafee again streaking to goal. Macafee struck a low shot past goalkeeper Beatrix Englar-Carlson to grab a 1-0 lead.
MacAfee credited Dusi for their chemistry.
“Defne passed to me, and I just booted it,” Macafee said. “We communicate well.”
The Coyotes scored again in the 19th minute on a rare corner kick goal.
Dusi struck a low ball that skittered just past Englar-Carlson, off a Pegasus defender and in the net to bring the score to 2-0.
For Dusi, playing with her classmates was just as rewarding as her goal.
“I like getting to play with all my friends,” she said. “Usually, I play with people [I don’t know from school]. I like meeting new people, but I like to play with my friends.”
The Thunder pressured hard in the second half. In the 28th minute, Katherine Janda cut the ball sharply to her left and by a Coyote defender but couldn’t solve Hernandez, who replaced Boyd in goal.
Just a minute later, she showcased her fast feet again with a quick touch to her left and a shot that Hernandez also stopped.
Janda impressed on the defensive side as well, running down Macafee from midfield on a breakaway in the 43rd minute to keep the Thunder within two.
In the 33rd minute, Talia Ghorban struck the ball on a long free kick that forced Hernandez to jump to her right and punch it away from goal. Moments later, she took another long shot off a rebound forcing Hernandez to make a second jumping save.
Pegasus coach J.J. McGawn saw her team improve drastically in the second half.
“I think that they did come together a bit as a team,” said McGawn, whose team will try to earn its first win Saturday against Costa Mesa Lincoln at 10:15 a.m. at Costa Mesa Davis’ Frainie Field. “Some of the stronger players who had been frustrated in the first half realized this is a different environment than a super intense tournament and they realized it’s fun to play with their friends and they were passing a lot more.”
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