SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — On the field 45 minutes prior to the start, Newport Harbor High Coach Mark Todd talked about how his boys' lacrosse team began the season with JSerra.
His Sailors also ended their season against the same team.
They failed to beat JSerra in February and they fell short again on Tuesday.
Fourth-seeded JSerra defeated No. 13 Newport Harbor, 14-4, in the opening round of the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division playoffs.
The Sailors (6-12) were unable to upset a first-round opponent, which they accomplished last season. Todd liked his team's chances at JSerra.
He talked about how his team reviewed footage of its previous game against JSerra. Many of his players, he said, didn't recognize themselves. They improved that much since the Feb. 27 matchup at Newport Harbor.
It showed at the start of the second go-around between the two schools.
The Lions (14-4) trailed the Sailors twice — two minutes into the game and midway through the first quarter. Then the Lions displayed their balanced attack the rest of the first half.
Five players recorded at least a goal and JSerra jumped out to a 7-2 lead at halftime. The Lions were on their way to advancing to Thursday's quarterfinal matchup at home against No. 5 Huntington Beach (14-3).
"I think we lost our energy," Todd said. "I was surprised. I thought we had a little bit more gas left in the tank."
Todd wanted to lead his team to the next round, for another shot at Huntington Beach, which plays in the Sunset League with Newport Harbor. Avenging their two setbacks to the Oilers isn't going to happen.
Newport Harbor's season came to a halt after it clawed into the postseason. The team needed to close out the regular season with three straight wins to qualify for the playoffs for the third straight year under Todd.
When the Sailors pulled it off, Todd said they felt confident about extending the winning streak into the playoffs, even though he was going to sit one of his top players at the start.
Todd said Ritter Hagadorn forgot his jersey at home. Todd benched the midfielder for not having his No. 21 with him.
Eight minutes before the game began, a woman pulled up near the stadium. She brought Hagadorn's jersey.
Hagadorn put the jersey on and waited on the sideline for his chance. Ninety-seven seconds into the game, it came.
Hagadorn jogged onto the field and he made an impact right away. He found a wide-open Chris Buchanan in the middle of the field and Buchanan attacked the goal and scored.
Hagadorn recorded the assist on the goal, the first of the game with 10:10 left in the opening quarter. Newport Harbor's lead didn't last long.
JSerra's Cole Schleppy tied the game at 1-1, and then a couple of minutes later, Clay Smyth put the Sailors out in front.
JSerra's defense shut the Sailors out in the next 29 minutes, thanks to goalie Jake Henigman, who finished with 13 saves. The scoreless stretch for Newport Harbor ended with 69 seconds left in the third quarter. Riley Peterson found the back of the net on a power-play opportunity.
"What happened was they went on like a [seven-goal run] and we just didn't respond," Todd said. "That's the real key to a game like that. When they go on a run, we got to come back and get the next faceoff and put one or two [goals] together ourselves."
JSerra never allowed the Sailors to gain much momentum. Brenden Lynch led the Lions with four goals, all coming in the second half, and Anthony DeMaio produced three goals.
JSerra was the 14th team the Sailors have faced with a winning record this season.
"We had the fourth-toughest strength of schedule in the Southern Section," said Todd, who wanted to prepare his players for the league, the playoffs and for recruiting purposes. "We can say we played everybody. We played Mullen [of Denver, Colo.] when [it was ranked] sixth in the nation. That's the whole purpose of scheduling heavy like that."
Will he schedule a similar taxing schedule next year?
"Maybe not," Todd said with a laugh.
"Looking to next year, we got some younger underclassmen that played well. Alex Fuller did a nice job for us, and Buchanan and Nate Chaness [did as well]. They're returning players that I think will really help us out in a year and going forward."