HUNTINGTON BEACH — Players from the Dominguez High boys' soccer team doused assistant coach Alfredo Wenceslao with water in celebration of a 4-1 win.
The Dons from Carson posed for a team picture with their third-place medals. They also danced in a huddle and sang some victory song in Spanish.
"You'd think they won the World Cup," someone from Newport Harbor's team said.
It seemed to be a big game for Dominguez (5-1-2), which appeared thrilled to beat a team from Orange County and finish third in the Marina Holiday Classic Thursday.
Sailors second-year coach Juan Mares wanted his players to know it was supposed to be a big game for them too.
He's expecting them to bounce back as they prepare for Sunset League play next week. Newport Harbor (7-5-3) allowed four goals in the second half and was forced to settle for fourth place in the 21-team tournament.
But a new season begins next week.
"This team needs to learn the pressure of the big game, and twice already in the big game we've choked," Mares said of his team, which had Brice Manning and Omar Gonzalez named to the all-tournament team. "But now we've got league and we just have to make sure we take care of business there. Every game is a big game in league."
Last year, Newport Harbor finished last in the strong six-team league. Edison appears to be the favorite. Marina won its tournament with a 1-0 victory over Fountain Valley, which finished second in the league last year. Both teams should be contenders in the league that also includes Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos.
The Sailors showed they are capable of improving on last year's finish at times against Dominguez, especially in the first half.
Senior forward Christian Ochoa displayed aggressiveness in the 18th minute and it paid off. He stole the ball and pushed his way through two defenders before passing to sophomore forward Jonny Arroyo, who finished it off with a goal.
"Right now we are trying to play to our potential but we haven't yet," Ochoa said. "We can play a lot better of a game than we did today, but it's just mental tenacity."
Newport Harbor nearly scored just before halftime. Senior Oswaldo "Ozzy" Gilberto fired off a nice shot from the left wing, but the Dominguez goalie got enough of the ball to knock it down and saved it before another Sailors shot could come.
"That would've been the nail in the coffin," Mares said of Gilberto's shot. "The goalie had a quality save."
At halftime, Dominguez Coach Jose Rosas spoke to his team in Spanish, telling his players to spread out the Sailors and beat them on the outside. He also told them to play with more fire.
Then he switched to English and told his Dons that they were the underdogs. He also said they were playing against 12 players because he did not agree with many of the officials' calls.
Dominguez attacked frequently, much more than Newport Harbor in the second half.
Five minutes in, Christopher Tome scored on a header, finishing on a breakaway after an assist from Billy Brown.
Eight minutes later, Jonathan Lugo found the back of the net after his shot from the left wing from about 15 yards out.
Newport Harbor couldn't stop the Dons, who also won several 50-50 balls. Angel Camacho gave Dominguez a 3-1 lead with 12 minutes left after finishing on a breakaway.
Carlos Lopez closed out the scoring with less than a minute left.
"We didn't come out with the intensity to match their intensity," Mares said of the second half.
"The hard part with [Newport Harbor] is just the mental part. If they are on they are on. If they don't bring it mentally, we're the Newport team of last year. We'll bounce back."