McIntosh a joy for Newport Harbor

Courtney McIntosh likes to smile and laugh.

At times, it makes Newport Harbor High field hockey coach Amanda Boyer feel the opposite way.

"I kind of laugh a lot," McIntosh said. "I'm serious, but at the same time, I really [play] more to have fun. Sometimes Amanda gets mad at me for laughing too much."

Playing rival Huntington Beach in field hockey? That's no joke. But McIntosh, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, delivered Oct. 2.

She scored in penalty strokes in the Orange County Tournament championship game against the Oilers. It was tied 1-1 after strokes, so McIntosh's strike into the bottom left corner allowed the game to go to sudden-death strokes, where Sailors senior Stephanie Storch scored to give the Sailors a co-title. Both teams finished with one loss in the tournament.

McIntosh, a stopper, was voted MVP of the tournament after helping the Sailors claim the title for the first time since 2006.

Boyer wasn't at the final; she was in Santa Barbara as a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding. But she could probably see McIntosh's big smile in her head after Newport Harbor won.

The first-year varsity coach doesn't mind it too much. She has seen steady improvement from McIntosh, who she first coached on the junior varsity level two years ago.

"She has a very unique and advanced view of the field," Boyer said. "She's very good at having a sense of where all her teammates are, and where the ball needs to go into open space to create plays. She's a huge leader on the field; she's a big playmaker."

McIntosh isn't quite the baby anymore for Newport Harbor (9-2). She felt that way at times last year, when she made varsity as a sophomore, but she's used to it. That's what happens when you're the youngest of five sisters.

All of Kirk and Sue McIntosh's daughters — Terra, Krista, Ashley, Alex and now Courtney — have played sports at Harbor. Courtney is also an accomplished soccer player. Like her sisters, she played in the Daily Pilot Cup, the annual youth soccer tournament.

"My dad created it," she said, laughing again. "I mean, we're kind of obligated."

But McIntosh said she recently left her club soccer team, Newport Beach-based Slammers FC. She is getting more serious about being a part of the self-proclaimed "Chix With Stix."

"This year I decided that if I was going to play college sports, I would definitely rather play field hockey than soccer," said McIntosh, who does plan to keep playing high school soccer. "It's more fun-oriented, less serious."

McIntosh said she was glad to score that penalty stroke against Huntington Beach, after missing twice earlier in the tournament. Momentum can change quick in field hockey, and Boyer is glad her peppy junior is around to lead the charge in converting the Sailors' defense to offense.

McIntosh is one of several leaders for a defense that also includes senior goalie Sydney King, who was named Most Valuable Goalie at the Orange County Tournament. Sweeper Madeline Storch, Sophie Evans and Natalie Swift also contribute to a Sailors defense that has not allowed a regulation goal in seven games.

Newport is going for its third straight Los Angeles Field Hockey Assn. Tournament of Champions title this year. The main competition again will likely be Huntington Beach.

"They really push us the most," McIntosh said. "They're the most fun team to play, I'd say."

Another win, and she can laugh it up again with her teammates.

"Sometimes I have to tell her to stop smiling," Boyer said, herself grinning. "If she smiles a little bit too much in an intense moment, I have to get her to get a little more serious. But she's a great, great kid."

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