Sophomore emerges as powerful presence in the middle of the field for Newport Harbor girls’ soccer team.
By Dave Thorpe, Daily Pilot
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The Newport Harbor High girls’ soccer team defeated Aliso Niguel, 2-1, last week when the Wolverines were ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division I. Then the Sailors came back Tuesday and defeated Laguna Hills, 2-0, in its regular-season finale.
After that, it was time for the waiting to begin.
The Sailors did their part by finishing the season strong and ending with a 4-4-2 Sea View League record. But they had to wait until Thursday’s game between Aliso Niguel and Irvine to see if they’d make the CIF playoffs. It wasn’t until the game ended Thursday with Irvine victorious that the Sailors’ season was over, barring an unlikely at-large bid into the CIF playoffs.
Coach Phil D’Agostino didn’t have to do nearly as much waiting for Emily Ohlhaver to emerge as a key contributor for the Sailors this season.
As the team’s center midfielder, the sophomore aims to control the action. She did so beautifully against Aliso Niguel last week, when she scored a goal and set up several scoring chances during Newport Harbor’s upset victory, keeping the team in contention for the playoff spot they were hoping for.
“I wanted it pretty bad, especially for the seniors on this team,” Ohlhaver said before Irvine’s victory most likely sent them home for the season. Ohlhaver, 16, who has been playing soccer since she was 5 years old, has been starting since her arrival as a freshman. She showed right away she could compete with older players and began to thrive this season.
“She has a talent for being able to control the middle of the field and create opportunities like I’ve never seen before at Newport Harbor,” D’Agostino said. “She has a strong presence, great footwork and she’s not afraid to go head to head against bigger players.”
Ohlhaver said she took to soccer right away because “you get rewarded for working hard.” “I’m someone who just works really hard and wants to win,” she said. Newport Harbor’s offense runs through Ohlhaver, an offensive-minded player.
“Our defense looks to feed her the ball,” D’Agostino said. “She knows as soon as the defense gets possession, she has to get herself open. She’s the transition point.” D’Agostino said Ohlhaver is a gifted player with several qualities that only figure to get better as she gets older and gains more experience.
“She has speed, footwork, she’s a strong shooter and has great field vision,” he said. Ohlhaver, an all-around athlete, also plays field hockey and competes in track and field in the relays and long jump. As long as she’s in the center of what Newport Harbor is trying to accomplish, the team should be in good shape for the next two years.
“I’m confident she’ll be one of the key leaders on this team the next two seasons,” D’Agostino said. “She’s a great kid, a hard worker on the field and in the classroom and has a great attitude.”
The Emily Olhaver File
Hometown: Newport Beach
Position: Center midfield
Coach: Phil D’Agostino
Favorite food: Pasta
Favorite movie: “The Notebook”
Favorite athletic moment: “Winning the gold bracket and going onto to Premier in club soccer.”
Week in review: Ohlhaver scored a goal and controlled the midfield in Newport Harbor’s 2-1 upset victory over Aliso Niguel, which was ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division I at the time.