Three times Newport Heights Elementary School grabbed a lead in one of Saturday afternoon’s Daily Pilot Cup quarterfinals, and each time Newport Coast responded, the last time with just three minutes to go.
The Sharks wouldn’t let that happen during the penalty-kick shootout following the 3-3 tie in a Bronze third- and fourth-grade showdown of Newport Beach schools, converting every spot kick en route to a 4-1 triumph in the tiebreaker and a spot in Sunday’s semifinals.
Christopher Hanck scored twice for Newport Heights, defenders Ryland Mason and Milo Cid made things difficult for Coyotes star Kavi Odabaee, and novice goalkeeper John Friedman came up big in the shootout to send the Sharks (1-0-2) to a 9 a.m. faceoff with Killybrooke (3-0-0), a 3-2 winner over Davis, at the Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.
The victor will meet College Park (2-0-1) or Harbor View (3-0-0) in the title game at 1 p.m.
“It’s really nice [to reach the final four],” said Magnus Warmsley, who scored Newport Heights’ first goal. “Actually, I can’t believe my team has made it this far, because I haven’t got this far in any competition. Except one.”
An absorbing first half ended with the Sharks on top, 3-2, and a strong defensive plan -- with Mason and Warmsley moving onto the backline from their usual spots up top -- had them headed to a regulation victory before Ryan Cleveland tallied following an Odabaee corner kick in the 47th minute.
That led to the PKs, in which all four Newport Heights shooters -- Cid, Mason, Warmsley and Hunter Bocks -- hit the net. Friedman stopped Nico Chaves on Newport Coast’s first attempt, Cleveland fired high on the second, and Odabaee kept the Coyotes alive by converting the third. Bocks’ finish sparked the Sharks’ celebration.
“[That late goal] was kind of a bummer, but we were real confidence in our keeper, that he was going to save some and do it for us,” said Newport Heights coach Molly Warmsley, Magnus’ mom. “It’s John Friedman’s first time out here playing soccer, but he’s a great athlete, and he’s quick off the ball, and because it’s his first time, he didn’t know the pressure that was on him, I think, and he was free to just have a good time.
“He was hungry, he wanted it, he wanted to do it for his team, and he did it for us.”
Odabaee, the best player on the field, scored twice for Newport Coast, his fourth and fifth goals of the tournament, and might have netted more if not for the play of, especially, Cid and Mason.
Cid made a critical block on Odabaee inside the box about 10 minutes into the second half.
“He was really close to me, and if he shot a goal, it would be the end for us,” Cid said. “So I just saved it.”
Warmsley gave Newport Heights a seventh-minute lead, looping a ball from about 30 yards over goalkeeper Andy Gamewell, but the Coyotes answered three minutes later with Odabaee finishing a Chaves feed after one of several superb defensive plays by Justin Aghakhani.
Hanck restored the Sharks’ advantage in the 14th, and Odabaee equalized again from a Chaves pass moments later. Hanck made it 3-2 in the 20th, firing into an open net from 30 yards after a Gamewell clearance rolled straight to him.
Molly Warmsley, also a coach with top youth club Pateadores, also has guided Newport Heights’ Silver fifth- and sixth-grade team into the semifinals. Win or lose, players from both of her teams -- all Pateadores standouts -- will be playing at halftime of the LA Galaxy’s game Sunday night against the New England Revolution at Dignity Health Sports Park.
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SCOTT FRENCH is a contributor to Times Community News.