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Hobbled Kerr Lifts Newport Harbor, 2-1


For a guy who didn't decide he could play until 30 minutes before the game, Newport Harbor forward Justin Kerr gave a pretty good account of himself.

Although he wasn't a factor in the first half and could only run at half speed because of an injured ankle, Kerr scored two second-half goals to lead seventh-ranked Newport Harbor to a 2-1 victory over Laguna Hills in the wild-card round of the Southern Section Division III playoffs.

"I'm reading all the papers and they're telling me I'm not going to play," said Kerr, who will play next year at Princeton. "I tried it before the game and it felt pretty good so I decided to go ahead."

Kerr wasn't as aggressive as usual and he didn't go for any balls he couldn't reach, so the first half was a bit of a waste. He touched the ball only a few times.

"I was trying to be a post-up player--kind of like a center in basketball," said Kerr, whose strained ligaments in his left ankle were heavily taped. "The guys did really well with it in the second half. In the first half, we were trying to find our rhythm."

Newport Harbor (18-5-4) outshot Laguna Hills (11-10-4), 5-1, in the first half as Jeremy Ellis, the Sailors' midfielder, won most of the contested balls and gave his teammates scoring chances. The second half was all Kerr.

He scored his 22nd goal of the season six minutes into the half on a header off a well-timed crossing pass from Ellis. Kerr put the game away with 16 minutes left on goal that was all effort. After taking a leave pass from Brett Baker, Kerr dribbled through two defenders and right-footed the ball past a helpless Ian Ellis into the right-hand corner.

As he finished off the play, Kerr still had a Laguna Hills defender hanging on his jersey.

"I thought it was going to be a foul, but I kept running," Kerr said. "Everybody else stopped. It was kind of quiet, but I'm glad I kept going."

Newport Harbor Coach Colin Bouette said the victory shows his team should have had a better playoff draw.

"We didn't think we deserved to [have to] play this game," Bouette said.

Newport Harbor, which finished third in the Sea View League, travels to second-seeded Santiago Friday for the first round. The Cavaliers are led by 50-goal scorer Albert Mendez.

In another Division III wild-card game:

Anaheim 1, La Quinta 0 (sudden death)--Anaheim will face Canyon in first-round play Friday.

In Division I wild-card.

Edison 1, Hawthorne 0 (sudden death)--Todd Marcus faked left and went to his right, kicking the ball into the opposite corner for Edison (11-12-4) four minutes into sudden death. Dave Van Reusen had four saves for Edison, which will play at fourth-seeded Westlake Village Westlake.

Fountain Valley 3, Claremont 1 (OT)--Three minutes into overtime, Joey Vazquez scored his second goal on a header off Joey Bove's free kick from 40 yards. Robby Kaessner scored in the second half of overtime off an assist from Vazquez for Fountain Valley (13-10), which will play at Redlands Friday.

Vazquez scored a first-half goal, then Claremont (13-9-3) tied it, 1-1, when Sean Daugherty scored in the 50th minute.

Mater Dei 6, Westminster 0--Reserves Michael Iches and Jason Smallwood scored second-half goals for Mater Dei (17-7-2). The Monarchs will play Friday at top-seeded Palos Verdes Peninsula. Westminster finished 14-9-2.

Trabuco Hills 1, Simi Valley 1 (Trabuco Hills advanced on penalty kicks, 4-2)--After 40 minutes of scoreless overtime, Andrew Mizell, Joey Signorile, Randy Gordon and Mike Stephenson scored in a shootout for host Trabuco Hills (8-6-7), which will play Friday at Santa Ana.

Scott Martino scored in the 60th minute for Trabuco Hills, but Simi Valley (19-4-4) forced overtime.

In Division IV wild-card:

Buena Park 2, Calvary Chapel 1--Ruben Gonzales took the ball down the field midway in the second half to score the winning goal. Buena Park (14-6-2) will play El Monte Friday.

Whittier Christian 7, Southern California Christian 0--Five players scored for Whittier Christian (14-8-5), including three goals from Kyle Hedwall. Whittier Christian plays at Palos Verdes Chadwick Friday in a first-round game.

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