HUNTINGTON BEACH — A table, with snacks for sale, sat just outside the entrance to the field hockey field at Huntington Beach High on Thursday.
But the Oilers recently installed field turf on the field. Several people had to be told that they couldn't actually bring the snacks they just purchased onto the field, water only.
It wasn't too big of a deal to the Huntington Beach fans. The play of the Oilers girls made sure that they went home happy.
Newport Harbor gave up two first-half goals and lost, 3-1, in the Sunset League match between the two rivals.
"They definitely came with the pressure," Newport Harbor Coach Amanda Boyer said. "They're a really good team. We just have some things to work on. It was a really good experience for the girls to go through, so that they can learn from it and move on with the rest of our season. We can only go up from here the next time we face them, and be more prepared."
Newport Harbor and Huntington Beach are the class of Southern California. Four years in a row they have met in the title match of the Los Angeles Field Hockey Assn. Tournament of Champions, with Newport Harbor winning all four.
It's been more even in the Sunset League, where the first-place Oilers (11-0, 4-0 in league) are the defending champions. They struck early in Thursday's match after being awarded a penalty shot. Senior Marina Elmore converted it, and the hosts were up a goal less than four minutes into the first half.
They increased their lead. A pass from Elmore went to senior Kayla Wigney, who poked it into the top of the goal to make the score 2-0 with 14:01 remaining in the first half.
The Sailors (10-2-3, 2-1-1 in league) went into halftime down by two goals.
"I think we didn't come out as strong as we potentially could," Newport Harbor senior defender Hannah Vigil said. "I think that was hard for us in the beginning. Obviously, when you don't come out with your full potential and a really strong mindset, Huntington is a great team and they're going to prey on that. Amanda talked to us at half, and we kind of lifted each other up. I think our second half was a lot stronger."
The Oilers, who held a 16-7 edge on short corners, kept the pressure on in the second half. Wigney, who was the league Most Valuable Offensive Player last year as a junior, made a standout play. She got a steal near midfield, sprinted down and juked past two Sailors defenders before scoring cross-cage.
Newport Harbor got on the board with 17 minutes left in the game. Sophomore Jordan Blanchfield dribbled it up before passing to Sophie Templin. The cross went to senior Jill Messersmith, who found the back of the net.
The "Chix With Stix" were the first team in league to score on the Oilers. But in the end, they just ran out of time.
Both teams will strive to improve. Huntington Beach Coach Cathy Van Doornum said her team needed to stick to its short passing game more, rather than going for the long ball. But the aggressive short corners made sure the ball was in the Newport Harbor end for much of the game.
"We did a good job drawing them today, we just didn't do a good job with our execution of them," Van Doornum said. "In the second half, we weren't getting a good pass out. We'll have to work on that, but their goalie [junior Cailynn Smethurst] made some nice saves. She did a good job."
Smethurst made eight saves for the Sailors, who also benefited from steady midfield play by senior captain Jane Layton.
Unlike in past years, the rivals will not meet in a tournament this year. Their only other meeting before the playoffs will be in the second league matchup, at Newport Harbor on Oct. 23.
That game will be played on grass, which Boyer said benefits her club.
"I can only hope that we are more prepared," Boyer said. "If we're going to lose a game, then this is the one to lose. The girls don't practice on turf, so that's a definite disadvantage for us. It's a much faster game on turf, and much lower. On the grass you're forced to be high, because you never know where the ball's going with the divots. It'll be a good match. It's a fun game, because both teams are so strong.
"That's what makes the rivalry so fun. We've won in the Tournament of Champions, and they've won in league. It always goes back and forth, and that's why it's a rivalry and so fun to play."
Vigil said this year's Sailors are not worried about the past, but rather focused on being as successful as they can.
"We have such a different team dynamic this year, with several sophomores on our team who are really strong players," Vigil said. "Every year is going to be different, but we always try to uphold that Newport name ... We're excited to see [Huntington Beach] back at our home field."