Year In Review, Part Two: Breakers rule Orange Coast League
The second half of the 2015 prep athletic year at Laguna Beach High got underway in late-August, and teams battled their way through CIF Southern Section playoff competition into late-November.
The fall season ended with numerous Orange Coast League championships and a trip to the CIF Southern Section semifinals in two sports (girls’ volleyball, boys’ water polo).
Below are some of the key fall season sports highlights that appeared in the Coastline Pilot.
August through December
A season that began in late-August with a new head coach, Ted Clarke, ended at the end of a 10-game regular season the first weekend in November for the Breakers.
The Breakers won two games in nonleague play, but didn’t enter the win column in Orange Coast League play. They finished the year 2-8 overall, their final game a loss at CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoff-bound Godinez.
Their wins came against Bolsa Grande and Sage Hill in the first month of the season.
“It was a fitting end to the season,” Clarke said. “The game really was a reflection of how our season went. Even though we started the season and first half of this game (Godinez) so badly, we finished strong on both counts.”
Senior quarterback Jack Simon finished his career as No. 3 in total offense yardage (4,071) and fifth in passing yards (3,215) in the program’s all-time lists.
It was a banner season for the Breakers who were perfect in Orange Coast League match competition. Sophomore BellaRose Robinson won the league’s finals tournament at Mesa Linda Golf Course in Costa Mesa in October to become MVP of the league, one of five Breakers to make all-league.
The Breakers went 12-0 against league competition and won the league title by six matches over Calvary Chapel and Estancia both of whom finished 6-6. They have won 36 consecutive league matches and have gone undefeated in league play three consecutive years.
At the CIF Southern Section Southern Division Team Championships in November at Lakewood Country Club, the Breakers finished 20th.
Robinson was one of four OCL players to advance to compete in November’s CIF Individuals tournament at Dad Miller Golf Course in Anaheim and shot a 93 score. No OCL golfer advanced to the tourney final.
The program won its 100th-consecutive league match (dating to 2005) and finished Orange Coast League play undefeated (10-0) in early-November. The Breakers took a No. 5 ranking into the CIF-SS Division 2AA playoffs.
The 2015 OCL championship gave Laguna its 11th-straight league title and 35th overall (since 1974) in 42 seasons. The program also qualified for the CIF-SS tournament for the 42nd time in the 44-year history of the playoffs.
The Breakers scored playoff victories over Cerritos Valley Christian, Arroyo Grande and Los Angeles Mayfield to advance to the Final Four. There, they fell, 3-2, to top-seeded Sun Valley Village Christian which went on to win the division title.
“I’m proud of my team to fight until the end in this CIF tournament,” Coach Raul Papaleo said of his squad which turned in a 22-win season.
The 2015 CIF results put the Laguna program at 103-37 overall in postseason play. The Breakers improved to 41-1 all-time in opening round playoff matches with their win over Valley Christian.
The Breakers again reigned as undefeated Orange Coast League champion, ruled the OCL singles and doubles tournaments, and was ranked seventh in CIF-SS Division 2 heading into postseason play.
The team followed up its perfect OCL match season by winning the singles and doubles titles at the two-day league tournament at Costa Mesa Tennis Center in late-October. Kelly Keller won the singles title and teammate Ashley Shelton finished second. Natasha Keces and Ashley Fair won the doubles crown and teammates Malia Helms and Iman Berri placed second, and Chloe Stuart and Lina Gleizer took third place.
It was an all-Laguna matchup in both divisions for the third-straight year.
The program has won the last seven OCL singles and past 10 league doubles titles.
“It’s a great accomplishment and required all the girls to be focused and ready to play,” Coach Don Davis said. “The girls played very well and held their seeds, which isn’t always so easy to do.”
On their home courts in early-November, the Breakers were eliminated from CIF title contention after a second-round loss (15-3) in the CIF-SS Division 2 team playoffs to Big VIII League champion and 10th-ranked Riverside M.L. King.
The Breakers (15-5) had defeated Simi Valley (15-3) in a first-round match.
“This team was the most cohesive group of all my teams during my five seasons and regardless of our lineup or results, the girls always came together in support of each other,” Davis said.
The girls’ cross-country team ran to an Orange Coast League championship and the boys’ team finished runner-up at the OCL Finals meet in mid-November at Irvine Park in Orange.
Sophomore Grace LaMontagne won the varsity girls’ three-mile race and senior Taylor Alvarez finished in second place, and the Breakers took six of the top-10 placements.
The Laguna varsity girls won the OCL title for the fourth consecutive year, and eighth time in nine years.
“The girls raced well,” girls’ Coach Steve Lalim said. " Of the 28 girls that competed, 27 of them ran a personal best. I’m really proud of the team.”
Two Laguna seniors, Drake Butler and Penn Neilson, had top-10 finishes in the varsity boys’ race.
Laguna girls’ varsity finishes: 1. Grace LaMontagne; 2. Taylor Alvarez; 6. Ana Kelly; 7. Lauryn Alvarez; 8. Molly Cohn; 9. Bella Fonk; 13. Hannah Konkel.
Laguna boys’ varsity finishes: 6. Drake Butler; 7. Penn Neilson; 12. Tim Andrews; 13. Luc LaMontagne; 14. Ayrton Svenson; 15. Ryan Whitlock; 18. William Kramer.
At the CIF Southern Section Cross-Country Championship Finals in mid-November at Riverside Golf Course in Riverside, the girls’ and boys’ teams rank their final races of the season. The girls’ team just missed securing a berth in the CIF State Championships after finishing in eighth place among 16 teams in the Division 4 team standings. The Laguna boys placed 11th among 16 teams also in Division 4. The top seven teams advanced to the state championships.
“I’m really proud of our team’s efforts this entire season,” Lalim said. “They worked hard in practice, and gave everything they could in the races. A tremendous group of girls, a pleasure to coach.”
Boys’ Sand Volleyball
In a rematch of last year’s title game, the Breakers defeated Huntington Beach in an Orange County Boys’ Sand Volleyball League finale at Grant Street in Newport Beach.
The Breakers, Cole Paxson, Isaac Wulff, Pete Obradovich, Tyler Jackson, Liam Christiansen, Enzo Sadler, Luke Jamison, Guy Thomas, George Knapp, Sam Burgi, Josh McManus, and Ayrton Garcia, had their bid to repeat as champion of the league was denied by Saddleback Valley Christian which defeated the Breakers in the postseason title match at Grant Street.
They finished the year 7-2.
In their first event of the Scholastic Surf Series in late-November, the Breakers defeated JSerra at Ninth Street in Huntington Beach. The Breakers had a representative in each division final, putting four of six boys’ shortboard competitors in the finals.
Laguna’s Jake Levine was an individual champion in boys’ shortboard. In the division, Breakers Trey Lockhart was second, Zach Levine third, and Travis Booth fourth. Zach Levine also placed second in Boys’ Bodyboard competing on a rented bodyboard.
Laguna’s Jameson Roller (boys) and Lola Fisher (girls) also were impressive in the Longboard competition and each finished second in their respective divisions. Claire Kelly took fourth-place in Girls’ Shortboard.
Boys’ Water Polo
The defending CIF-SS Division 3 champion Breakers had another big year which culminated in a repeat trip in late-November to the division semifinals.
The Breakers rolled to a 4-0 record en route to winning another Orange Coast League championship, and took a No. 2-seeding into the postseason. They opened the playoffs with easy wins over Temecula Chaparral (18-8) and Yorba Linda (20-8) to set up a semifinal date with third-seeded Capistrano Valley.
The Breakers won (9-6) a nonleague match between the teams in the final week of the regular season but in the semifinal rematch, the Cougars held on for a wild, 9-8 victory at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine.
The Breakers, who faced a daunting schedule, won 17 games.
“We’ve come a long way this year,” Coach Ethan Damato said after the semifinal loss. “It was tough, at times, this year and we took some lumps, but we played our best polo when it counted. Unfortunately, we didn’t play our best (tonight).”