COSTA MESA - The Newport Coast boys' fifth- and sixth-grade bronze division team came out with tenacity and aggressiveness in the second half, and it paid off. Two goals from forward Joey Cianfrani meshed with strong and preventive defense allowed Newport Coast to defeat Paularino, 2-0, in a quarterfinal match at the 13th annual Daily Pilot Cup Saturday afternoon at Costa Mesa High.
The soccer match was evenly matched from the start as both teams showed the competitiveness and the will to score. Paularino was the first team to take advantage of open spaces and tried scoring from outside the box.
Paularino's starting forward Jaime Martinez was aggressive and never shy to shoot the ball. The biggest opportunity Martinez had ended up one-on-one against Newport coast goalie Ethan Kharrazi. Martinez took the shot and out of nowhere, a Newport coast defender deflected the ball with his knee away from danger.
Newport Coast defenders had trouble containing Martinez in the first half as it seemed like he was running circles around them. At halftime the score was 0-0, and the crowd waiting to see who would score the first goal.
Newport Coast came out motivated in the second half. Cianfrani received a clean and accurate pass from midfielder Sean Owens right into his feet.
"The ball came to me and I was ready to either take a shot or pass so I faked right and looked up or to the left and saw Joey open inside the box running up," Owens said.
Cianfrani wasted no time with the ball and beat the Paularino goalkeeper low and near post to give Newport Coast a 1-0 lead. Paularino never gave up and tried to counter attack.
The dangerous Paularino forward Martinez passed a ball into the 18-yard box and connected with forward Aaron Murillo, who found himself open one-on-one with the goalie but his shot went wide and left.
About 15 minutes left in the game Cianfrani struck again as he followed a Paularino defender taking the ball away from him around the 18-yard box and nailed a shot high and tight underneath the crossbar making the score 2-0.
After the game Paularino coach Marco Argueta mentioned his team was unable to prevent the other team from scoring.
"I think it's a little bit of the inexperience of the players, they take it for granted, and they should have worked a little harder on the field," he said.
He also added that his team made a good effort but it lost and the boys are looking forward to next year's Pilot Cup.
Cianfrani, the hero for the Newport Coast team, talked about his first goal.
"I saw nobody was on me and I just decided to put the ball in the net away from the goalie's reach," he said.
Newport Coast advanced to a semifinal matchup against Christ Lutheran Sunday at noon at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex.
The championship game is Sunday at 3 p.m.