A Swift kick to Oilers

HUNTINGTON BEACH — In the first minute, Coach Matt Wells missed how his Huntington Beach High girls' soccer team scored a goal.

He was busy getting his jacket on.

Coach Larry Draluck never saw a goal coming for Newport Harbor in the final minute of a tied Sunset League match.

He was busy yelling at one of his players.

It is rare to see one team score in the first minute and the other in the final minute of a soccer match. That is how it played out between the Oilers and Sailors Thursday.

Draluck was not too thrilled about Newport Harbor giving up a goal so early. It all worked out at the end, when Natalie Swift put away the game-winning goal in the waning seconds.

Leave it to someone named Swift to quickly close out the Sailors' 2-1 come-from-behind road victory. Draluck did not expect the match to be decided in 80 minutes of regulation, but he will gladly take the win.

Newport Harbor improved to 4-1 in league play, staying tied for first place with Edison and Los Alamitos. Much of it has to do with the heady play of three players, Mary Yeager, Josie Jogwe and Swift, late.

Before the go-ahead goal developed, Draluck yelled at Yeager for rushing a throw-in.

"Hey! Stop it!" Draluck said to Yeager. "I figured we were going to overtime. I figured what are the chances of us scoring in 30 seconds, better to hold the ball and give ourselves 20 minutes, because in this league we go into overtime."

Draluck is more than OK that Yeager ignored him. The Sailors are on track to reach the CIF Southern Section playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

Yeager found Jogwe and the junior broke into the middle. The Oilers (1-4 in league) appeared out of balance defensively, and Jogwe, who tied the game in the 72nd minute off a rebound, played facilitator. She flipped a pass to the weak side, to a wide-open Swift.

The ball was on target and Swift, in stride, did not waste any time. Her first touch was a shot, a successful one that found the back of the net.

The senior midfielder said she had no idea how much time remained. In a matter of seconds, she and her teammates would be jumping up and down.

The celebration was short-lived for Swift. She was in a hurry to go, understandably so. Swift said she is flying today for an official visit to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where she might play soccer after she graduates from Newport Harbor.

Draluck hoped the rest of the players could bring the on-field party over to the bus ride back to Newport Harbor. Players then began handing their coach a sheet of paper, which Draluck said allowed the players to ride home with family.

"I was going to buy food," Draluck pleaded to the players lining up to hand him a note. "You guys don't want anything?

"They don't want to go on the bus, so they make me do it by myself."

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