As No. 24 for the Los Angeles Lakers nears a comeback, No. 24 for the Newport Harbor High girls' soccer team is in her first days of high school soccer.
Sailors freshman Sianna Siemonsma doesn't yet have a cool nickname on the pitch, like the "Black Mamba" nickname that people sometimes call Kobe Bryant. But give her time. She is that good.
What Siemonsma gives the Sailors is something they have struggled to find in recent years, a playmaker up top. She scored a goal and had an assist Thursday night, as Newport Harbor earned a 2-0 nonleague victory over host Estancia at Jim Scott Stadium.
"She's going to be a handful for a lot of teams," Newport Coach Larry Draluck said of Siemonsma. "She's still got a long way to go, a lot to learn, but she's definitely got the strength and speed to be a scoring threat."
Siemonsma created her first goal in the 29th minute, rushing up the right side of the field following a goal kick by freshman keeper Katie Robinson. Her shot was blocked by Estancia junior keeper Gianna Guyot, earning a corner kick.
Siemonsma took Melisa Camano's corner kick and headed it into the back of the net, giving the Sailors the lead.
In the second half, she drew a crowd near the left side of the box before passing it to senior midfielder Jessi Prather up top. Prather angled her shot into the left corner, giving the Sailors an insurance goal in the 66th minute.
Newport Harbor (2-1) played much better after halftime overall, holding onto possession more. Prather gave credit to her coach.
"When we're not playing that well in the first half, he just gives us so much advice during halftime that gets us ready for the second half," Prather said. "Our first touch was off, we were rushing and we weren't playing as a team. The main thing that he emphasizes is for us to play as a team. He kept saying that over and over again, and then we finally just let it sink in. It all ended up working out in the end."
But two of the Sailors' best players from last year aren't on this year's squad. Draluck said senior goalie Rowan Frederiksen and junior wing Natalie Ward decided not to play high school soccer this year.
Frederiksen and Ward, who have committed to Colorado College and Notre Dame respectively, both play club for Newport Beach-based Slammers FC. In July, they were on the Slammers Under-16 team that advanced all the way to the Elite Clubs National League championship match in Henrico, Va.
Frederiksen said in a Twitter message Thursday night that she isn't playing for NHHS this year because she needs to focus on her schoolwork and getting ready for college, as well as playing a higher pace of soccer. But Draluck said the team misses the duo's leadership.
"I don't know if this is cool to say, but I coach club," said Draluck, a coaching director for the SoCal Blues. "Every one of my players is going to go play in college, and they're all playing high school. I don't understand. I'm a club coach, but this high school business is fun, they're in the community, they get a lot of support. Plus, they work on their leadership. Now that they're juniors or seniors, they now have to guide the young ones, like a Sianna.
"What am I to do? I can't force them [to play]. It hurts not to have their leadership, and also their talent."
Robinson made five saves for the Sailors, who also relied on the defensive effort from players like Camano, senior Rosalie Deliz, junior Brooke Zachry and sophomore Emily Goltz. Prather, junior Matilda Higman and sophomores Allyson Nordlie and Paige Fults were leaders in the midfield.
With the game in hand, Draluck took Siemonsma out for rest with about 10 minutes left. She left to well-earned applause.
"You're my inspiration," yelled a Newport Harbor boys' soccer player watching the match.
Guyot made several nice saves for Estancia (1-1). She then had to leave right after the game to head to CdM, as a member of the Estancia girls' basketball team.
The Eagles struggled to get scoring opportunities in the second half. Many of the chances the Eagles did get were created by crosses or shots by senior midfielder Haley Flores, a four-year starter.
Estancia Coach Jessica Perry said her team is currently still missing club players like sophomore midfielder Samantha Falasco, as well as junior twins Caitlin and Sarah Leahy.
"Obviously, they're great kids and they bring awesome energy, but I also think this group is playing tough," Perry said. "We're just working out some kinks. I'm confident that it's going to get better in the weeks to come. A lot of the girls were doing double duty for a while, playing high school and club, so we've got some tired legs. At the end of the day, Harbor put the ball in the back of the net."
Perry's reaction to No. 24 in blue, Siemonsma, was one of disbelief.
"I can't believe she's a freshman," Perry said of Siemonsma, who also plays club for Slammers. "I think she's strong and fast. For her to be running past [Estancia sophomore sweeper] Brandi White, I don't see that very often. That was pretty impressive to me."
Newport Harbor opens the Aliso Cup tournament on Tuesday, playing host to Villa Park at 5 p.m. Estancia is at home against Fountain Valley at 3 p.m. Tuesday in a nonleague match.