Michaelsen a hit for Tars

Sierra Michaelsen took up kenpo-style karate in October.

She's an orange belt. But her time in the dojo is currently on hiatus as she focuses on a more pressing matter, her senior year for the Newport Harbor High girls' lacrosse team.

"Right before I left I was going to reach the intermediate level," Michaelsen said. "I get to wait until the summer now."

She doesn't mind the break. She wants the Sailors, who play Corona del Mar in the Battle of the Bay Friday night at 5 at Newport Harbor, to extend their season as long as possible.

Michaelsen, a four-year varsity starter and team captain, plays center for Newport Harbor (4-7). She's the one in charge of taking the draws, a big responsibility.

She's already been front and center for Newport Harbor several times this season. The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week scored the game-winning goal March 17 in an 11-10 victory over Trabuco Hills with less than a minute left.

"Forty-one seconds," Michaelsen said with a smile, remembering the exact time her shot found the back of the net.

She has reason to smile. The Sailors have 10 seniors this year and they're looking to improve on their second-place finish in league and U.S. Lacrosse Orange County Southern Section Division I quarterfinals loss a year ago.

Michaelsen is one of three seniors for the Sailors who have been on varsity all four years, the others being defender Nikki Perrier and attacker Amanda Olevsky.

As a midfielder Michaelsen does both, attacking and defending. Second-year Coach Sarah Queener wouldn't have it any other way.

"She's very valuable on defense because she can create turnovers," Queener said. "She's very good at communicating, and she's also a very good one-on-one defender. She just continues to improve her skills as a defender. She's really been impressing me lately. She's very strong and smart."

But the game-winning goal against Trabuco Hills wasn't a fluke occurrence. She also scored the game-winner in a 6-5 victory over Corona del Mar at the Rose Bowl tournament March 5. For the season, Michaelsen is third on the Sailors with 11 goals scored, behind only Olevsky and senior Stephanie Storch with 15 each.

"We try to keep it even," Michaelsen said. "One person with control over the entire game should never happen. Stephanie has really grown as a player, especially in the last year. She used to be a defender, and then this year she's a midfielder. I think that's opened so many doors for her as a player. It's really made her game grow, and she's become a phenomenal player. She's a really big asset to our team."

It's spoken like a coach, and Michaelsen definitely takes her lacrosse seriously as a player on her X Team club team in national tournaments and Team OC locally. Last summer, she helped X Team win its first tournament at the Champions Cup in Maryland.

Michaelsen has grown a lot as a player after she started playing lacrosse nearly five years ago. Her first three years at Newport Harbor she also ran cross country, never on the varsity.

The main reason? Good training for lacrosse.

Michaelsen, who has a 3.8 weighted grade-point average, was a U.S. Lacrosse Academic All-American last year. She definitely wants to play the sport in college. She's waiting to hear back from a couple of schools before making her final decision.

It doesn't surprise Queener, who herself played four years at Yale, that Michaelsen wants to play in college as well.

"She's very intense," said Queener, who coached collegiately at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps prior to coming to Newport Harbor. "She always has her eye on the prize. She wants to win."

That's the attitude Michaelsen takes into Friday night's game as well. She turns 18 on Saturday, and beating the Sea Kings would be a nice early birthday present. Michaelsen definitely doesn't want to lose the Battle of the Bay for the second straight year.

"I plan on leaving nothing behind," she said. "No regrets. I'm going all out for this one. I think it's probably going to be the most important game for our team this year, especially with the rivalry … We don't plan to lose."

Michaelsen doesn't plan to karate chop the Sea Kings. Another well-timed goal would do just fine.

"The pressure's on [at the end of the game], but I enjoy pressure," she said. "I enjoy the stress of the game. I've always wanted to be a major part of the flow of the game, ever since I started playing. Even when I'm not holding the ball, I'm trying to do something to be productive for my teammates."


Sierra Michaelsen

Born: March 26, 1993

Hometown: Long Beach

Height: 5-foot-8

Sport: Lacrosse

Coach: Sarah Queener

Favorite food: Top Ramen noodles

Favorite movie: "Red"

Favorite athletic moment: Making an acrobatic goal, despite being tripped at the goal-line extended, in a game her sophomore year against Beckman.

Week in review: The senior midfielder scored the game-winning goal to help Newport Harbor defeat Trabuco Hills, 11-10, on March 17.

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