DOWNEY >> The Newport Harbor girls lacrosse team beat Murrieta Mesa 11-6 to claim its first CIF-Southern Section Division 2 championship in school history Saturday night at Downey High School.
Newport Harbor (15-9) finished the regular season tied for second place in the Sunset League. The Sailors beat Chaminade, San Juan Hills and rival Corona del Mar to reach the championship game.
“This is what coaching is all about, having a team like mine who give it their all everyday and go into every game confident,” Newport Harbor coach Brooke Martini said. “They know that we all have each other’s back out there. Today they trusted each other and that was key.”
Senior Olivia Gritzmacher has been a four-year starter for the Sailors and eclipsed the 100-point mark for the second consecutive season. The Sailors were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the playoffs her freshman and junior seasons.
“I’ve put everything I have into this team and this sport, and to go out like this is the best thing I could have ever asked for,” Gritzmacher said.
Gritzmacher scored twice and won 11 of 19 draw controls. Caroline Close had three goals and Rowdy Farmer added two goals and an assist.
Freshman Casey Sharbrough had three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and Lucy Toohey scored twice.
“I think teams lock me off because they know that I’m a strong player, but everyone else on this team is just as strong,” Gritzmacher said. “They took it to the goal tonight and did what they needed to do.”
Murrieta Mesa (20-3) won the Southwestern League this season. Carson Dickey scored three times for the Rams and Ryan Smith scored twice.
Sophia Tresvan had a free-position goal to open the scoring for Murrieta Mesa and Lauren Kuschel had an assist.
The Rams had some solid scoring opportunities, particularly in the first half, but Newport Harbor goalie Lucy Valdes made some saves in close range to protect the Sailors’ lead.
Newport Harbor had a 10-4 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game and was able to stall with the ball for six minutes before turning the ball over. The Sailors did not make a single substitution during that possession.
“We train for that. We work hard in practice for having to stall the ball in moments like this and that’s how we won this championship,” Martini said. “That’s why we run in practice. They all don’t like it but they are thanking me now.”