Pilot Cup: Gassel scores hat trick for Newport

COSTA MESA — While observing just how young some players are at the 13th annual Daily Pilot Cup, one would only need to watch Aidan Gassel complete his hat trick.

After he dribbled past a drawn-out goalie, the Newport Elementary forward had the goal all to himself. But his black headband was slipping off the top of his head. So in the 29th minute, Gassel adjusted it during his run, while continuing to dribble, and scored easily.

One wouldn't really imagine a professional player like L.A. Galaxy forward Landon Donovan doing that.

Gassel's goals, along with two more by Marlon Chavarria, helped Newport win its third- and fourth-grade bronze division pool-play game, 5-0, over Sonora of Costa Mesa.

Newport (1-1) stayed alive for a potential semifinal berth in the third- and fourth-grade pool standings. It is in second place behind St. John (2-0), who they play at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

Christ Lutheran is 2-0 and in the driver's seat to earn a quarterfinal bye and advance to Sunday's semifinals at noon at Costa Mesa High. It plays at 10:15 a.m. Saturday at the Hammett Sports Complex against Sonora, who will not reach the playoffs.

"It's good they still have a shot at [advancing to the quarterfinals]," Newport co-head coach Farouk Nurami said. "The kids worked hard for it. They earned it. The speed was there, but it was still a team win. The boys kept working as a unit."

Gassel used some deft ball-handling skills and awareness to score his third goal.

"I pretended to go that way (left) and went that way (right)," Gassel said. "Jameson [Ibe] passed it to me a lot."

Gassel opened the scoring by hitting a shot that ricocheted off the Sonora goalie and off Gassel's shin for the 1-0 lead in the fourth minute.

During the 15th minute, a Newport player was tripped inside the goal box. Gassel stepped up and drilled the penalty kick to his left for a 3-0 lead.

Sandwiched in between Gassel's first two goals was a breakaway goal scored by Chavarria in the 13th minute.

Four minutes later, Chavarria struck again. Nearly 10 yards past midfield, he pulled off a tricky hesitation move to get past two defenders, on his way to scoring again.

Burton Miller also had an assist.

Sonora struggled to get the ball into any scoring chances the entire first half. After the head official ruled Newport could no longer score while leading by five goals, Sonora had two scoring chances, both by Jackson Detken. In the 45th minute, Detken had a hard shot on goal that was saved by Newport goalie Ken Deluna, then Detken swung his arms in frustration.

"It's fun to play soccer," Detken said. "We worked very hard."

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