Anish back at Newport Heights

COSTA MESA — Alon Anish played in the Daily Pilot Cup six years ago.

Anish is now coaching in it.

Anish is back on the field with Newport Heights Elementary School. Anish is more used to directing a team in between the lines as a central midfielder than on the sideline as a coach.

Making the 17-year-old's job easier is having a talented third- and fourth-grade team.

Newport Heights opened the 14th annual Pilot Cup with a convincing 5-0 victory against Lincoln in a silver division match at Costa Mesa High on Tuesday.

"Most of the boys really know how to actually play, which is really helpful," Anish said. "Once I got their positions down and they could stick with it and just work hard, anything could happen.

"I'm loving what I'm seeing so far. I think we got a good shot at [winning] this tournament this year."

Anish led his former school to a 3-0 lead in the first half. James Eadie, Hayden Farley and Noah Foigelman each produced goals.

In the second half, Eidie added a second goal, five minutes after William Haide's breakaway goal in the 28th minute. Eidie gave Newport Heights a 5-0 lead.

At this point, Anish yelled to his players, "Cut it. Just pass it." Anish believed his team would lose a point if it scored more than six goals against Lincoln.

But the rules state if a team wins by five or more goals, it would get penalized a point. Instead of earning 10 possible points, six for winning, three for recording at least three goals and one for turning in a shutout, Newport Heights came away with nine points.

It has been a while since Anish has been involved with the tournament. Back when he played, he said his team played 10-minute quarters.

"These little kids probably get tired," said Anish, referring to the 25-minute halves. "I was surprised when they were doing halves."

Newport Heights secured the shutout with the help of Aiden Brutman and Foigelman, who shared the goalkeeper duties.

Brutman played the first half. His biggest stops came 10 minutes into the match. One of Lincoln's taller players tried to get to a loose ball in the box, but Brutman kicked the ball away a couple of times.

Lincoln striker Bennett Lombardo came close to ruining the shutout bid late. Lombardo unleashed a shot near the post, which went wide.

Anish ran down the sideline, hoping it would. He's passionate about the game. Anish said he spent most of the last school year in England playing for one of Manchester City FC's academy teams.

"I'm thinking about finishing senior year of high school [at Newport Harbor], just to kind of get my diploma," Anish said. "But then I do want to go back [to England] and see where I can take soccer and see where it goes.

"[Newport Harbor] got to [the] CIF [Southern Section Division 1 playoffs for the first time in three seasons under Coach Juan Mares]. It's the best year we've had in a while. I was really happy for the boys [for getting the program's first playoff win since the 2008-09 season]. I got to see their final [playoff] game … and they played well, even though they lost to [third-seeded] El Toro [in the first round, 2-1]. I was really proud of them. It was actually a real close game."

Anish has time to figure out his future. In the meantime, for the next few days, his focus is on leading third- and fourth-graders.

Newport Heights' next match is Friday against Kaiser at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex at 4:30 p.m.

"Now coming back as a coach, it's just even better," Anish said. "I get to see all the kids at my old school, train them, show them what the game is actually like. Hopefully, we can take it home for the school."

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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