The goal came in the very first minute of the match Thursday night.
Newport Harbor High girls’ soccer junior Skylynn Rodriguez played the ball ahead to senior Mackenzee Blaser on the right side. Blaser’s cross went in to sophomore Reese Bodas, who put the shot away.
With the way the Sailors have been playing defense, one goal proved more than enough against visiting Woodbridge. Bodas and senior co-captain Emily Johnson did add goals later on, as Newport Harbor earned a 3-0 nonleague victory at Newport Harbor High.
Coach Justin Schroeder’s Sailors stayed undefeated at 6-0-2. They could have scored several more goals, but did not get frustrated as several shots hit the post or crossbar. Bodas certainly struck early.
“It was cool,” Bodas said. “We’ve been working on building up to goals. It came on a hard and low cross, and that’s one of our big things this season, hard and low crosses. Scoring in the first minute, that just shows how ready we were.”
Bodas scored on Woodbridge (0-5-2) again in the 37th minute, dribbling through the middle of the defense before depositing a shot into the left corner of the net. Johnson’s goal came in the 60th minute, a low shot from near the top of the box that also found the left corner. Junior Makenzie Trigo had the assist.
Johnson, bound for UC Santa Barbara, returned to high school soccer this season after spending her junior year playing academy soccer with her club team, LAFC Slammers.
“I’m so happy,” Johnson said. “I’m really excited to be back, getting to play with a lot of the kids that I played with before, and also getting to meet a lot of the younger kids. It’s so fun, seeing the freshmen and sophomores. It brings back so many good memories that I had. I just really want to try to mentor the younger kids, kind of like how the older kids did to me. It’s just been super-fun so far.”
Johnson has plenty of weapons around her. Senior midfielder Sofia Velazquez is in her second year as captain and has recently worked her way back from a hip flexor injury.
“I’m staying mentally strong and physically strong for the team and for myself,” Velazquez said. “Coming back as a captain, it means a lot. Even though [Johnson] wasn’t there last year, she was there the year before, so she has some experience as well. Having her as my co-captain is really nice. I know I can depend on her and the team. The captain is a title, but everyone on the team shows that they have leadership.”
Sophomore Kenna Robar and junior Sadie Pitchess were two other players who nearly scored goals Thursday. And a back line led by sophomore center backs Jenna McConnaughey and Samara Golan was rarely challenged. Nicole Laz, Liz Peters and Daiana Moreno also contributed defensively for the Sailors, who have outscored their six opponents this season by a combined 13-1. They have not allowed a goal in their last five matches.
Newport sophomore goalkeeper Jessica Gardner faced just one shot on goal Thursday, a boot from Woodbridge’s Molly Repel early in the second half that went right to her.
Schroeder said this is easily the deepest team he has had in three years leading the program. He subbed in players seven at a time against Woodbridge, trying to keep everyone fresh.
“With how the calendar is nowadays, you’re playing so many games on top of each other,” Schroeder said. “As a coaching staff, we kind of have to really monitor and manage the kids. But it’s nice. The level of play stayed high the entire time, regardless of who went into the game. That is great for a coach. You go all the way to your 20th player, and the standards stay high.”
Newport Harbor plays University at 11 a.m. Saturday at home in a Best in the West tournament “ABCD” Division semifinal. With a win, the final against either Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos or Pacifica would follow at 3:30 p.m. The Sailors have won a division title in the tournament the last two seasons.