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Girls lacrosse preview: Newport Harbor works harder after breakthrough season

STAFF WRITER

Last year was a special one for the Newport Harbor girls lacrosse team.

The Sailors went 8-0 in league and then pulled off consecutive upset wins to advance to the Orange County semifinals, their first appearance in the final four.

What’s the best way to try to carry over that momentum this season?

“We started our preparation a lot earlier this year,” Newport Harbor coach Matt Armstrong said. “We know that since we went deeper in the playoffs, that people might have their eyes on us more and see us as a threat.

“Normally, we start in September and October, but this time we started with our summer camp and focused on stick work, foot work, to up the ante from what we’ve done in the past.”

Armstrong also credits the work of assistant coach Kaleigh Gibbons. Gibbons joined the staff last year.

“She was able to come up with a better plan and understanding of what the program needed,” Armstrong said. “Coming off of last year, she knew where each player left off and was able to customize our system better.”

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GIRLS LACROSSE PREVIEW

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The Sailors graduated a pair of first-team All-County players (Rylie Siegfried and Jordan Rausch). This year’s team has a good mix of seniors and underclassmen.

Senior midfielders Katie Hendrix (Arizona State) and Sarah Farley (Belmont-Abbey) have already committed. Junior midfielder Adena Rothbard recently committed to the University of New Hampshire.

“I’m excited about this team,” Armstrong said. “They’re coming into this season more solid and they know the game better. The confidence is higher and we have a group of experienced girls.”

Senior Laura Tran and sophomores Delany Knipp, Elise Skytte and goalie Jade Rettig will also play key roles this season.

“There is a sense of more buy-in and a long-term commitment to the team,” Armstrong said. “Others are buying in and trying to elevate the whole team.”

MATER DEI LOADED FOR REPEAT

Mater Dei is clearly the team to beat in Orange County and the Southern Section.

However, the question remains, will anyone be able to do just that?

The top-ranked Monarchs went undefeated last year (21-0), winning the county and section titles.

This year, Coach Cressita Bowman has 13 returners from last year, including seniors Grace Houser, Mackenzie Wallevand, Courtney Walburger, Lauren Gonzales and Madeline Hooks.

The Monarchs averaged 15.5 goals last season and allowed just 5.6.


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