Fischers help U.S. win gold medal

The USA Water Polo Youth Women's National Team, whose roster includes sisters Makenzie and Aria Fischer of Laguna Beach High and Laguna Beach High boys' and girls' water polo Coach Ethan Damato as an assistant coach, won its first FINA Youth World Championship title Sunday at Madrid, Spain.

The U.S. won the gold medal by defeating Canada, 5-4, in the tournament final.

Aria Fischer scored four goals and Makenzie Fischer one goal in the title game. Team USA goalie Carlee Kapana was named the top goalkeeper of the tournament.

Aria Fischer scored the first two goals of the match and Makenzie Fischer scored in the second quarter.

Team USA, which never trailed, led, 3-2, at halftime.

Aria Fischer scored once in the third quarter but Canada rallied to tie the score (4-4) in the fourth quarter. Her fourth goal of the match later in the quarter was the game-winner.

Team USA went 6-0 during the tournament, in its second year, with wins against Hungary, South Africa, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Canada.

The U.S. finished in fourth place at the first FINA Youth World Championship at Perth, Australia, in 2012.

The gold medal marks the second major championship of the summer for the Women's Youth National Team which, with Damato serving as head coach, won the gold medal at the UANA Junior Pan American Championship in Riverside in July.

Aria Fischer was named MVP of the Junior Pan American Championship tournament.

"It was such an amazing experience to go through and I learned so much," Damato said.

"The group of girls that we had were not only incredibly talented but they worked hard, they were tough and they really had great chemistry in and out of the water. It makes it easy as a coach when every girls wants to be the best all the time.

"I'm so proud of them and the adversity they overcame to win together. I had a blast with them this summer and feel really thankful to have been a part of it."

Damato also coached the SET (Saddleback/El Toro) Water Polo Club 16-under girls' team that went undefeated and won the gold medal in its division at the National Water Polo Junior Olympics at Stanford University in July.

Seven members of the Laguna Beach High girls' water polo team were on the 15-player SET 16U roster: Aria Fischer (MVP of the tournament), Bella Baldridge (first-team All-American), Holly Parker (first-team All-American), Mia Salvini, Ally Jochim, Haley Evans and Natalie Selin.

Also during the summer, the Laguna Beach girls' team, led by Laguna varsity assistant coach Trevor Lyle, won the High School State Championship Tournament.

"We had a great summer as a group both on the boys' and girls' side," Damato said.

"The majority of our athletes competed in Junior Olympics at a really high level, some got a chance to represent their country and some enjoyed a lot of success playing with their high school team. All and all, I am really proud of our athletes and the sacrifices they make to be great at what they do. They spend a lot of time playing water polo and working hard at the sport.

"It's a lot of time and a lot of sacrifice. I couldn't be more proud to be their coach. Our water polo programs are in a great place right now."

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