A fast start left little doubt Wednesday that the Laguna Beach High girls' water polo team was on its way to another big Orange Coast League victory.
The Breakers gave up a first-quarter goal to host Estancia but then shut out the Eagles the remainder of the way, and rolled to a 23-1 victory. Makenzie Fischer and Ally Jochim both scored four goals and Lexi Del Toro and Sydney Saxe each scored three goals, to pace the offensive output.
Laguna, ranked sixth in CIF Southern Section Division 1, improved to 3-0 in league and clinched another OCL championship. The Breakers are 13-6 overall.
"The girls came out extremely sharp in the first half," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "They were swimming hard and moving the ball well on the counter. It was fun to watch and it looked like the girls were having fun, playing creatively and being very unselfish all game.
"I was especially impressed with the girls who came off the bench. Ally Jochim had a great day and guarded their top scorer. Haley Evans, Daniela Lucidi and Kate Magnusson also played very well on both ends of the pool."
The performance came five days after the Breakers suffered a tough defeat. In a nonleague game Jan. 18 at Foothill, the co-No.1 team with Santa Barbara in Division 1, the Breakers were edged in overtime by the Knights, 9-8.
Laguna trailed, 7-3, at the half, but went on a 5-0 run in the second half to take the lead with under two minutes left in regulation.
Three of Laguna's six losses this year are to Foothill. The Knights had previously defeated the Breakers by scores of 9-5 and 13-6 in tournament games.
"I thought there were some great things that came out of the Foothill loss," Damato said. "When we went down 7-3 at half, I wasn't quite sure how we would respond. We came out in the third [quarter] determined to get back in the game, and we did.
"I thought our girls showed a ton of character and had a chance to beat the No. 1 team in the final minutes. That's exactly where we want to be in those types of game. Next time, we have to finish the job. Hopefully we proved to ourselves that we can beat anyone."
The Breakers face another stiff Division 1 nonleague challenge Friday when they play host to third-ranked Newport Harbor at 3:30 p.m. They start play Thursday at the Irvine SoCal Championship Tournament.
"Newport is a very disciplined and well-coached team that plays very well together," Damato said. "They don't make a lot of mistakes and they won't beat themselves. If we want to win Friday we will need to come out sharp and be ready to play four quarters of good water polo. If we do that, we will have our chances and be right there in the final minutes.
"I'm excited to get another quality game under our belts and another challenge for our girls. We will be fired up and ready to go, you can count on that."
Friday: Newport Harbor, 3:30 p.m.
Thursday-Feb. 2: at Irvine SoCal Championships
Feb. 6: Godinez, 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 8: at El Toro, 3:30 p.m.
Calling it an "important road win," Coach Bill Rolfing's Breakers went to Costa Mesa Tuesday and earned a 1-0 Orange Coast League victory over Costa Mesa at Estancia High.
The winning goal was scored in the first half and was initiated by striker Emma Barker, who blasted a shot at the Costa Mesa goal from 15 yards out. The ball rebounded off the Mustangs goalie and came back out to Laguna's Tessa Hopper, who scored from 10 yards out.
Laguna got off subsequent shots on goal in the game by Johana Abarca, Chiara Noppenberger and Audrey Pillsbury, but each was denied. Costa Mesa gained some momentum in the second half, but Rolfing said the defensive play of Summer Stanaland and Amy Hewlett was "critical" down the stretch.
The win was the first in league play for the Breakers, who improved to 1-3-1 in league. All three of their losses were one-goal setbacks. They have given up only four goals in league competition.
The Breakers next play a 3:15 p.m. league game Tuesday at Saddleback. They also travel Thursday to Centennial Park in Santa Ana to take on Godinez at 3:15 p.m.
Tuesday: at Saddleback, 3:15 p.m.
Thursday: vs. Godinez (at Centennial Park), 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 4: vs. Calvary Chapel (at Centennial Park), 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 6: Costa Mesa, 5 p.m.
In an Orange Coast League encounter Wednesday, the Breakers played host Costa Mesa to a 2-2 tie.
Willy Wheeler and Chris Tellez scored for Laguna, the No. 5-ranked team in Division 5. The Breakers are now 2-2-1 in league and 7-2-3 overall.
"This was a very fast-paced and exciting game," Laguna Coach Dan Richards said. "We created a lot of chances and really felt we deserved to win the match. Our play in the first half was solid and Willy took his chance well to give us the lead. We did a good job of attacking at speed and on another night could have been a couple more ahead at the half."
The Breakers took a 1-0 lead at the half on a score by Wheeler, but found themselves down a goal early in the second half.
"The first five minutes of the second half was very disappointing and we were really the creators of our own downfall," Richards said. "Costa Mesa came at us and scored two quick goals to take the lead. The reaction from the team after this, however, was excellent. We pushed hard for the rest of the half and really started to dominate the game.
"The team showed a lot of character to keep pressing the issue after the shock of going behind so early in the [second] half, Chris' goal was very well taken and well-deserved."
In previous league action Jan. 18, the Breakers fell, 3-1, to visiting Godinez. The Breakers trailed, 1-0, at the half, but used a goal by Zach Jacobs early in the second half to tie the score.
Laguna is home Friday for a 6:30 p.m. league game with Estancia (3-2 in league) at Guyer Field. It's the opening game of the second half of league play. Next week, the Breakers play at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday at Saddleback.
"The league is unbelievably close, any of three from five teams could make the playoffs and each game day reshuffles the favorites to make the postseason," Richards said. "Friday's game against Estancia is another big game and we will need to show the same energy we did [against Costa Mesa] to get something out of the matchup."
Friday: Estancia, 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday: at Saddleback, 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 1: vs. Godinez (at Centennial Park), 3:15 p.m.