The Newport Harbor High girls’ soccer team had a magical season.
It was so enjoyable for the Sailors that in the face of only their third loss of the campaign, there were players that attempted to reenact a Gatorade shower with the team water jug. The target was Sailors coach Justin Schroeder.
Newport Harbor had not suffered defeat since Jan. 3 against visiting Los Alamitos, and it was the same opponent that eliminated the Sailors on the same stage on Tuesday night.
Sophomore forward Colby Barnett scored twice for the Griffins, who beat host Newport Harbor 2-0 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals.
Second-seeded Los Alamitos also shut out Newport Harbor 1-0 in the previous meeting, a Sunset Conference crossover match between the two eventual league champions. The Griffins (24-0-5) won the Surf League and the Sailors (18-3-6) the Wave League.
“[The Sailors are] very good up top, and our defense was just organized both games,” Griffins coach Pat Rossi said. “It’s a tough thing to do twice because they’re very strong up top. I think that’s one of the best things they do is how they counter.”
Los Alamitos’ back line of Teryn Newkirk, Jayden Newkirk, Paige Thompson and Deepika Kooner did not allow the Sailors to get much space to operate near their own goal.
A soft header off a bounce from Reese Bodas in the 33rd minute accounted for the only save that had to be made by Griffins goalkeeper Reezyn Turk.
Barnett opened the scoring in the 45th minute. The Griffins got possession following a corner kick by the Sailors. Maddie Reed fed the ball ahead to Barnett, who got in alone behind the defense and placed the ball inside the left post to beat Sailors goalkeeper Sammy Nowak.
Skylynn Rodriguez had an opportunity to strike back in the 49th minute, but her shot from the center of the box was partially blocked by Analisa Gjonovich.
Barnett doubled Los Alamitos’ lead in the 54th minute. A scramble in front of the Newport Harbor goal wound up with Tabbi LaParl finding Barnett. A diving Nowak got a piece of the shot, but it rolled inside the right post for the Griffins’ second goal.
“She’s an amazing player, and it’s so easy to play with her,” Barnett said of LaParl. “I always know where she is or what she is doing on the ball, and we just work really well together.”
Newport Harbor kept 17 clean sheets defensively this season. Schroeder said that his team had been able to adjust to whatever the opponent was doing all season, but the undefeated Griffins were able to capitalize on some rare miscues.
“It was a great season,” Schroeder said. “Hate for it to be the end of it. Very rarely do good teams ever get to end the last game with a championship. That’s just what happened here. We made a couple of mistakes that we haven’t made the entire year, the entire playoffs.
“A good team like Los Al kind of punishes you for that, but I kind of felt like we gave a little bit away to a good team.”
Senior attacking midfielder Emily Johnson, who plans to continue playing soccer at UC Santa Barbara, had never gone past the first round of the postseason in her career.
“Having the Santa Margarita game [in the second round] previously, we knew how to fight, and we knew what we had to do to win the game,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out our way, but I think we worked hard. There couldn’t be a better way to end the season.