A trip to Hawaii turned into a dominating adventure for the Laguna Beach Age Group Water Polo girls’ 14-and-Under team.
Just days removed from earning a silver medal at the S&R; Junior Olympics water polo tournament in San Jose, the team played in Honolulu at the 39th annual Hawaiian Invitational Water Polo Tournament. In a six-game swing, Laguna went undefeated and outscored the opposition by a whopping, 69-14.
The locals never trailed in the tournament and was tied just once, at 1-1 and that came in the first game.
Laguna 8, Hawaiian Islands 2
Jessica Shusko scored the first goal just 33 seconds into this opener and set the tone for Laguna for the remainder of the tournament.
Hawaiian Islands managed to score a tying goal but Laguna got two goals each from Yoshi Andersen, Melena Masson and Jessie Holechek, and one from Lida De Groote, to win going away.
Laguna 9, Corona del Mar 2
Melena Masson took game scoring honors with five goals as Laguna routed their rival. Jessie Holechek scored twice, and Candyce Schroeder and Riley Duncan had one goal.
Laguna 13, Oahu 3
Laguna cruised again, this time getting a game-best four goals from Lida De Groote. Bridgette Alvarez scored three goals.
Riley Duncan and Candyce Schroeder each scored twice, and Kaitlyn Waidley and Jessie Holechek also scored.
Laguna 15, Iolani 3
Kelsey Thorton found the goal four times and Yoshi Andersen tallied three goals in another runaway victory.
Kaitlyn Waidley scored twice and Riley Duncan, Lida De Groote, Candyce Schroeder, Melena Masson and Jessie Holechek all scored once.
Edy Manetta, who had played goalie, also scored, as well.
Laguna 13, Davis 1
In the final game of bracket play, Laguna took on a Davis squad it had defeated at the Junior Olympics tournament the previous week. This time around, it was no contest as Laguna ripped off the first 13 goals of the game.
Jessica Shusko and Candyce Schroeder led the scoring with three goals each. Melena Masson and Jessie Holechek each scored twice, and single goals went to Riley Duncan, Kelsey Thorton and Yoshi Andersen.
Laguna 9, Corona del Mar 2
The second meeting in the tournament between the two teams mirrored the first, as Laguna cruised in the championship final.
Just 23 seconds into the game, Laguna went to work and drew a kick out. Melena Masson then scored off an assist from Yoshi Andersen.
Laguna then survived a kick out as Edy Manetta made a key block. In the final 1:30 of the first quarter, Jessica Shusko set up Anderson for Laguna’s second goal and on its next possession, Jessie Holechek set up Candyce Schroeder for a score as Laguna built its lead to 3-0.
Corona del Mar managed another kick out and this time converted, to narrow the score to 3-1 after the opening quarter.
Laguna’s defense wouldn’t allow a goal in the second quarter while the offense scored twice to increase the lead to 5-1 at the half. Early in the quarter, Shusko drew a kick out and Masson scored with the extra player advantage. On the next possession, Thorton drew a five-meter call and Holechek tossed in the free shot to end the first-half scoring.
Shusko and Masson teamed on Laguna’s only score of the third quarter and Thorton posted three more goals in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring and wrap up the tournament title.
With just under two minutes to go in the final, Laguna Coach Kayne Schroeder inserted Manetta, Holechek, Shusko, Lida De Groote, Kaitlyn Waidley and Riley Duncan, who were playing their final minutes in the program, as field players.
The Laguna program age limit is 14 for both boys and girls.
During their time in the program, Laguna won a championship and two silver medals in national competitions, numerous gold medals in various regional tournament action and last season, made its way into the finals of every tournament in which the team competed as a full squad.
“It was a privilege coaching this team in this tournament,” Schroeder said. “Everybody played well and the whole team could have received the MVP award.
“We brought our California defensive pressure to become Hawaiian champs. This team almost pulled off the trifecta, winning Speedo and Hawaii and finishing second at the Junior Olympics. It’s a special group of girls.”
Manetta’s outstanding play in goal earned her the tournament’s MVP honor in Hawaii.