NEWPORT BEACH — Foothill High senior driver Kelli Boling said her team deserved the win.
Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett knew his Sailors didn't.
The Knights hung on Thursday to post the upset of the first day of the Holiday Cup, topping the Sailors, 8-7, in a wild quarterfinal game at Newport Harbor High.
Newport Harbor fails to make it to the semifinals of its host tournament for the first time since 2001. Instead, the No. 4-seeded Sailors (4-1) will play in a fifth-place semifinal game today at 8:30 a.m. against Palos Verdes.
"They played with a lot of enthusiasm," Barnett said of the Knights, who fell to Newport Harbor, 10-6, in a nonleague game Dec. 10. "I told my girls before the game, the biggest problem before this game is us. We beat them quite handily three weeks ago, and you walk in and think it's going to be the same thing.
"It's not the same thing. You've got to be prepared to play each game hard, and they played harder than we did. That's the bottom line. You can't count the chickens before they're hatched, as the old saying goes."
Newport Harbor had its chances to avoid the shocker. The last-ditch attempt came from junior Maddy McLaren, out of a timeout with four seconds to go.
The clock showed 1.9 seconds coming into the timeout, but the referee added extra time. That helped Newport senior goalie Sarah Wilkey get a nice pass to McLaren, but her shot in the middle was field blocked as time expired.
It was justice to Boling, a San Diego State signee and four-year varsity player for the young Knights (3-3). Usually in that time span, the Knights have lost to the Tars in close games.
"Last time we played them, a lot of their goals [five of the 10] were off their six-on-five," said Boling, who scored two goals. "In the past three weeks, we've been working our butts off and working on our five-on-six. We've just been working so hard preparing for this game. We deserved to win this game, and we wanted to show it to them. Even with our new coach [Jeff Colton] and our new pool, we've been working so hard and we deserved that win. It's a big win for us."
Newport Harbor was just two of six this time around on the power play.
Down, 7-6, after three quarters, the Sailors missed a golden opportunity after drawing a rare goalie exclusion on Foothill's Kelsey Roland early in the fourth.
But Foothill got two field blocks on the ensuing possession, causing a ball-under to change possession. The Knights then got a break on their own offensive series.
With just a second left on the shot clock, Foothill's Nicole Stansfield drew the third exclusion on Newport junior Sophie Leveque. Barnett and the Sailors fans yelled in protest, but that left no defenders and two attackers in front of the Sailors' goal. Stansfield scored the easy one to give the Knights an 8-6 lead with 4:11 left in the game.
Sophomore Elissia Schilling scored a backhander with 1:57 left to pull the Sailors within one, but they couldn't get closer.
McLaren scored a team-high three goals for the Sailors, including a last-second heave from about three-quarters pool to end the first half. That brought the Sailors within a goal, at 5-4, but they never caught up.
Catherine Carpenter, Mary Rose Wight and Kailyn Obenauer each added goals for the Sailors, and Wilkey again had a strong outing in goal with 14 saves. Foothill junior Jessie Porter had three goals.
Newport Harbor had breezed by Carlsbad, 12-2, in its tournament opener behind three goals from McLaren. Carpenter, Allyson Hall and Presley Pender scored twice, and Carpenter's defense helped hold Carlsbad's Beth Williams, a Michigan signee, scoreless.