Newport Harbor hangs on

NEWPORT BEACH — The high-tech scoreboard is not currently working at the Newport Harbor High pool.

The score was kept at the table during Tuesday afternoon's nonleague game against Long Beach Wilson. Each time one of the teams found the back of the net, someone at the scorer's desk flipped over a red or blue number to show the updated tally.

Every so often someone would walk over from the bleachers to glance at the score.

In the first half, it wasn't really necessary.

Newport Harbor dominated early and hung on late, posting a 14-11 victory over the Bruins.

The Sailors (2-0) are ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division I coaches' poll. Long Beach Wilson (0-1) is No. 2 in Division II. But the game was a mismatch at the onset, as the Sailors jumped out to an 8-2 halftime lead.

Coach Robert Lynn saw his team nearly shut out Wilson in the first half, like the Sailors had in Saturday's 14-3 blowout at Foothill.

"When they scored, they beat our shot blocks," Lynn said. "Our defense was stable and strong."

Newport Harbor led 11-3 midway through the third quarter, when junior Curtis Fink redirected senior Ryan Fowler's pass from the wing into the net. But Wilson rallied within 12-8 early in the fourth quarter, when Wilson's Murphy Slater scored on a six-on-five.

The Bruins scored on their final three power-play opportunities to finish four for 10 when they had the extra man; Newport Harbor was two for four and also scored on a penalty shot.

"The defense broke down a little bit in the third and fourth quarters," Lynn said. "We weren't as patient as we needed to be. We have to learn to play a little smarter when we feel a little tired."

The Sailors still quickly responded. Junior Dan Stevens caused a ball-under turnover at mid-tank, then scored on the counter after another pass from Fowler (four assists). And, after a steal from junior Andrew Silvers at two meters, Fink scored cross-cage to push the lead back to 14-8 with just more than three minutes left.

"It was all a team effort," said Fink, who tied Stevens and senior Farrel South with a team-high four goals. "Coach Lynn told us exactly what to do. We had a couple of breakdowns in the back court, but other than that we stayed strong."

Senior goalie Koby Yokota made nine saves for the Sailors, before backup Wyatt Muller made two saves in the fourth quarter. Silvers and junior Preston Lee added single goals for Newport Harbor, which has now played three of the top four teams in Division II. The Sailors outscored top-ranked rival Corona del Mar, 11-7, in a scrimmage on Sept. 7; Foothill is No. 4 in Division II.

Wilson Coach Tony Martinho said his team will need to play better if it will stay No. 2 in Division II. He was missing one of his team captains in Willis Allen (sick) on Tuesday. The other team captain, his son Thomas Martinho, scored three goals for the Bruins. Maxwell Irving led Wilson with four goals, and senior goalie Nick Hoy made eight saves.

"We've been sick, and it looked like it in the first half," said Martinho, who led Wilson to the Division II semifinals last year before falling to Murrieta Valley. "To the kids' credit, they shrugged it off and started playing in the second half, but you've got to credit the Newport kids. They were ready to play, and you could see the difference in the first half."

Newport Harbor plays host to San Diego Section power Coronado on Saturday at 7 p.m. Then comes the first of three regular-season tournaments, the South Coast Tournament that the Sailors co-host with CdM on Sept. 22-24.

It is a fairly challenging early-season schedule, but the Sailors don't mind.

"The coaches have been pushing us," Fink said. "They told us that we were going to have these hard practices and they said, 'Let's get ready.' The team got hyped up together and we're just doing what they're telling us to do. The new staff has done nothing but help us."

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