CORONA DEL MAR — On Tuesday, Corona del Mar High played its sixth girls' soccer match in six days. It's understandable why the Sea Kings' legs looked weary to Coach Bryan Middleton in the first half of the latest match.
The previous five contests came at the Butch Lee Memorial Tournament in San Diego, where CdM faced a couple of the premier teams in the country.
Getting up for rival Newport Harbor isn't usually a problem for CdM, but the Sea Kings' bodies didn't respond in the first 40 minutes.
As a result, the Sea Kings went into halftime even with the Sailors. The Battle of the Bay was scoreless, prompting Middleton to tell his players how crucial the first five minutes of the second half would be at home.
"Whatever team is going to score is probably going to win the game," Middleton said. "Let's make sure it's us."
The Sea Kings answered two minutes in, scoring off a set piece by Annie Alvarado just outside the box. Alvarado and CdM never looked back, beating Newport Harbor, 2-0.
Alvarado, a junior, is deadly when it comes to set pieces. Goalkeeper Emily Browne tried to deflect the shot away, only to see the ball go to her left and into the back of the net.
"That's a tough one to stop," said Middleton, who can almost say the same thing about his team.
Through the first seven matches of the season, CdM has only lost once.
Middleton is OK with the setback, which took place in the finale at the Butch Lee Memorial Tournament. The Sea Kings lost to San Diego Westview, 3-0, once again falling short of winning a tournament under Middleton.
Alvarado said CdM (5-1-1), ranked No. 11 in the nation by ESPN, went into the season with four goals it wanted to accomplish. One of those was to win a tournament.
Another was to defeat Newport Harbor (1-4-1).
The Sea Kings accomplished one feat by easily shutting out the Sailors. They get another shot at claiming a tournament next week.
Before CdM travels to the Flintridge Tournament, it has a tough match on Thursday at No. 13 Edison. The opponent will be CdM's third against a ranked team in the country.
"My concern right now is we're hurting," said Middleton, who has standout goalkeeper Sarah Cox out with a sternum injury. "We're beat up and we got Edison. How we battle through that game is going to be tough. I'm going to have to use some bench personnel. The one thing that we do have this year is we got a deep bench."
Middleton went to his bench against the Sailors shortly after Karsten Sigband scored in the 73rd minute.
Alana Hunter sent a through ball to Sigband, who beat the keeper. Sigband continued her fast start to the season.
Middleton is happy to have Sigband back after he said the midfielder missed last year with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
"She is definitely back on the map and the radar of everyone now," said Middleton, adding that the junior recorded a couple of goals and assists at the tournament in San Diego.
Newport Harbor entered the rivalry match coming off a tournament as well. The Sailors didn't enjoy as much success at their tournament, the Aliso Cup, as CdM did at the Butch Lee Memorial Tournament, beating Santa Margarita, 1-0, in the semifinals to reach the finale.
Coach Larry Draluck said Newport Harbor lost a couple of players to injuries at the tournament. The Sailors played at CdM without Courtney McIntosh (knee) and Alyssa Randall (concussion).
"We're not up to [CdM's] level right now," Draluck said. "We have a lot of young players. We have a few injuries. But that's not an excuse. They're much better than we are."
Despite a taxing schedule, the Sea Kings proved it by beating the Sailors for the second straight year.