The Newport Harbor High boys’ lacrosse team rode an elite offensive performance from Rhett Farmer on Wednesday to remain perfect in Sunset League play.
Farmer delivered seven goals, leading the host Sailors to a 13-12 victory over Los Alamitos. The win carried significant league implications, as the Griffins were handed their first league loss of the season.
The Sailors are now the only team left undefeated in league play, improving to 4-0. The Griffins dropped to 2-1 in league.
“It’s near No. 1, because this was a big league game,” Farmer said of where this performance stacks up among his personal bests. “It puts us atop the league, and putting up those numbers for our team helps us advance, as far as [the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division] playoffs and such.”
While Farmer’s scoring prowess was the undoubted highlight of the evening, it was his passing that lifted Newport Harbor to victory in the final moments.
With under 90 seconds left in regulation, Farmer found Aiden Goltz in an opening from behind the net. Goltz caught the pass above his head, and in one motion whipped the ball into the bottom of the net for the decisive goal.
“I just saw him wide open and moved it to him,” Farmer said. “He has a rip, so I know it was going in as soon as it touched his stick.”
“He has a rip, so I knew it was going in as soon as it touched his stick.”— Josh Criswell (@Item_Criswell) April 5, 2018
Rhett Farmer talks about his seven-goal night and setting up Aiden Goltz for the game-winner. Newport Harbor remains undefeated in Sunset League @TheDailyPilot @DailyPilotSport pic.twitter.com/LHIcmy47bZ
Preventable mistakes cost Newport Harbor a chance to break away early on, despite a four-goal first quarter.
A handful of unforced errors negated quality scoring opportunities in the opening minutes, and a trio of penalties led to three short-handed goals allowed in the first quarter.
As the game progressed, freshman Ed Shean kept Los Alamitos in reach with a dominant offensive outing of his own. Shean finished with four goals and an assist, with two of the goals and his lone assist coming during the second quarter.
In a losing effort, the play of the Griffins’ promising underclassman spurred reason for optimism — in both the immediate and distant future.
“I think Ed Shean is a very special player,” Los Alamitos coach Tim Fox said. “The potential he has, and just every game he keeps getting better and better. He’s a freshman, so it’s exciting to know we’re going to have him for a few more years and see what he evolves into.”
Race Mooers set the tone in the second half on the faceoff, which played a pivotal role in the Sailors taking an 11-8 lead into the fourth. Despite this late deficit, though, Los Alamitos was hardly out of the contest. A trio of goals within a span on 90 seconds allowed the Griffins to even the score in the final quarter, and they would swap goals down the stretch to set up a nail-biter of a finish.
An emotional display unfolded after the game, with the Newport Harbor bench sprinting across the field in celebration at the final buzzer. But while the Sailors may relish the victory in the moment, coach Mark Todd is quick to note that remaining focused is paramount as his team pursues its third league title in four seasons.
“I never feel confident enough,” Todd said. “I try to make our boys stay humble and focused. We have to sweat the details, because the details are what makes the difference between good and great.”
JOSH CRISWELL is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @joshccriswell