The Newport Harbor High School girls’ football team had a list of things to celebrate on Tuesday.
On senior night, Newport Harbor defeated Marina 4-1 at Davidson Field to win the Wave League title. The win was the Sailors’ seventh in a row, giving the program two straight league titles and three in the past four seasons.
Laine Briggs scored twice and Brielle Benedict once in the Newport Harbor victory. Antonella Russo scored the final tally for the Sailors and Newport Harbor keeper Emily Park made three saves in the win.
Abby Kirby scored Marina’s only goal (6-9-2, 2-3). Marina keeper Taylee Vo stopped 13 of 17 shots.
Newport Harbor (12-8-4, 5-0) took the lead in the 11th minute, when Benedict straightened out a pass from Lana Burns and slid a low shot past Vo for a 1-0 Sailors lead.
Benedict credited Burns for his opportunity.
“As Lana received the ball, I was clearing space for her, and she saw me and quickly played me,” Benedict said, “I took a good touch with my left foot, I looked up and hoped for the best Our simple details were really good tonight.
In the 18th minute, another shot from Benedict hit Vo but slipped past him and landed at the feet of Briggs, who put down the rebound for a 2-0 lead over Newport Harbor.
Briggs wanted the spotlight to return to the seniors on Seniors Night.
“It’s awesome,” Briggs said. “I would prefer all the seniors to score, but I guess I’m just here at the right time.”
Vo was busy all night for Marina, especially in the latter stages of the first half, sprinting out of her net to stop Isabelle Whittaker from close range and recovering to snatch a crossing attempt from Benedict.
In the 41st minute, Kirby caught a transition pass from Gisselle Barragan. From nearly 30 yards away, Kirby fired a shot directly into the top right corner of the Newport Harbor goal to bring Marina within one.
“I was just thinking about shooting,” Kirby said. “Because if I don’t shoot, I can’t score. I was very excited.
Marina coach Heath Oberle told his team not to let Newport Harbor go away without a fight.
“We knew Newport were a good team,” Oberle said. “They always are. We just kind of let them do what they wanted in the first half, so in the second half I just asked them to show the fight and the determination and make it difficult.
Kirby’s goal briefly gave Marina a boost. In the 51st minute, a long shot from Elizabeth Krysinski rang off the crossbar before the Sailors cleared the ball.
Newport Harbor took a 3-1 lead in the 61st minute. Benedict crossed the ball into the box for Whittaker, whose shot bounced off Vo – then a Marina defender – before Briggs seized the opportunity.
Newport Harbor froze the game in the 66th minute, when Russo netted a free kick just outside the penalty area through Marina’s wall and past Vo for Newport Harbor’s final goal.
Newport Harbor travels to Laguna Beach (5-8-2, 2-3) to close out its regular season on Thursday, while Marina hosts Fountain Valley (6-11-3, 1-4).
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