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Breakers on the rise

Mike Sciacca

Two practices a day, one held each morning before the start of the

school day, the other, right after classes let out, should have the

Laguna Beach High girls’ water polo team well prepared for the

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2002-03 season.

The Breakers actually began their season 10 days ago, but will be

on hiatus from competition until this weekend’s Villa Park

Tournament.

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During that break, it’s been nothing but training for a Breakers

squad eager to play again.

“The last two years we opened the season by playing in consecutive

tournaments, and that takes a lot out of a team,” Laguna Beach coach

Rick Scott said. “This year, we’ve spread the tournaments throughout

the season and Villa Park will be our first. It’s a tough tournament

with a lot of good teams competing.”

Scott begins his sixth year as head coach with a veteran squad

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built around a trio of seniors who started last season, a back-up

goalie who has been moved from the net into the pool of play and four

sophomores.

When Scott came on board in the 1997-98 season, Laguna finished

just 4-13 overall.

Since that first year, his teams have made four CIF playoff

quarterfinal appearances, and in one of those seasons, the 2000-01

team won the school’s first CIF championship in the sport.

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While the program is looking for its third consecutive 20-win

season, Laguna will be doing so on the move: for the first time, the

school will be playing in CIF Division II, a jump of two divisions.

“I think it’s safe to say that our team goal is to make it to the

finals,” senior Annie Preble said. “What is special about us is that

we will definitely be one of the smartest teams out there.

“It all comes down to how we’re coached and that each of us on the

team knows what her role is. That creates a lot of team unity, and

that’s how you become a successful team.”

Preble is a returning first-team All-Pacific Coast League and

second-team All-CIF performer. Over the summer, she led the Breakers

in scoring and picked up where she left off by scoring six goals

during Laguna’s season-opening, 10-5 win over Brea-Olinda on Dec. 3.

She’s part of a core group, Scott says, that also consists of

senior goalie Lina Moore, first-team All-PCL and All-CIF and a

four-year varsity performer, and senior driver/defensive specialist

Kari Herdmen, whom Scott says runs the Breakers’ defense and is an

intelligent player.

A fourth senior in the lineup is Jenny Lenker, a backup goalie the

past three years who has been converted to driver.

“By moving her to a new position, Jenny increases our depth,”

Scott said. “The great thing is that she has such a good knowledge of

the game.”

Laguna’s eight-member roster is rounded out by four sophomores:

Katherine Gordon, a starter as a freshman, Addison Doud, Elizabeth

Roolidge and Annie Nelson.

“Our sophomores are very talented,” Scott said. “Katherine

possesses great speed and helps our movement and counter-attack.

Addison is a great outside shooter who can really guard our

opponent’s hole set.”

Scott said that his squad turned in a successful summer season --

which included a trip to Hawaii, and was encouraged by the

season-opening win over Brea-Olinda.

The Villa Park Tournament, which continues today through Saturday,

will offer the Breakers the chance to play tough teams again.

“There’s going to be some really good competition in the

tournament,” he said. “We’re looking forward to getting a few games

under our belts. It’s early in the season and we, of course, want to

do well, but our main goal is to be playing our best water polo in

February, come playoff time.”

Scott, who was a driver on Corona del Mar’s 1983 CIF championship

team, says his current team has the talent to make this a memorable

year.

“It was a wonderful feeling winning a CIF title as a player, but

it was an incredible feeling when I won one as a coach a couple years

ago,” he said.

“I’m really excited about this team and know that it has a lot of

ability,” he said. “They’re a very dedicated and committed group and

through hard work and perseverance, they can reach their goals.”


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