The Laguna Beach boys’ water polo team came in confident to Wednesday’s Orange Coast League match against visiting Costa Mesa, having just come off a fifth-place finish in the highly-competitive Villa Park Tournament.
That confidence paved the way for a 14-8 victory over the Mustangs, although Coach Chad Beeler said it wasn’t the Breakers’ best effort.
“We really didn’t play as well as we thought we could, and Costa Mesa played a good game,” Beeler said.
Laguna led 5-0 after one quarter and 11-2 at the half, leaving the outcome all but settled except for the final score.
Goalie Warren Murrel had another outstanding match, this time with 11 saves. He only played three quarters in the net, then went into the field and was replaced at goal by Nathan McConnell.
Laguna’s scoring consisted of four goals by Pierre Masson at four, three each by Max Munoz and Victor Alcone and one apiece by McConnell, Johnny Meek, Sean Dorse and David Brunner.
Brett Thompson, Robert Chew, Georgio Mosca, Anthony Ackley, Kyle Caris, Sean Spera and Spike Jackson all made contributions on defense.
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Close games and overtime sessions were the norm for Laguna in the Villa Park Classic held Sept. 27-29.
The Breakers complied a 4-1 record over the three days to earn a fifth-place finish among a 32-team field.
In their final tournament match, the fifth-place game, Laguna met a La Canada team that had knocked off host and No. 1-ranked (Division II) Villa Park. The teams were tied at the half but the Breakers fell behind, 9-7, through three quarters but rallied to squeeze out a 13-12 victory.
La Canada is the top-ranked team in Division III.
Masson scored two goals and Murrel had several stops in goal, as Laguna tied the score at 9-9. La Canada went ahead 10-9 with 55 seconds left but after a La Canada ejection, the Breakers capitalized on a man-up situation to pull even again (10-10) on a goal by Munoz.
A huge block by Murrel with four seconds to play allowed Laguna to go into overtime for the third time in the tournament.
In overtime, Masson scored twice in succession and McConnell connected on a five-meter penalty shot to give Laguna command.
Also at the tournament, Laguna defeated Carlsbad, one of the top-ranked teams in the CIF-San Diego Section, 8-7. McConnell scored three goals, Masson and Munoz each had two, and Brett Thompson scored Laguna’s first goal of the match.
The Breakers also prevailed, 10-9, over Dana Hills in another overtime thriller.
Laguna’s only tournament loss came in sudden death overtime against Mission Viejo (No. 2, Division I).
At the conclusion of the tournament, McConnnell was named to the all-tournament Team. McConnell and Masson shared top scoring honors with 16 and 15 goals, respectively, in the five matches. Munoz scored eight goals, Thompson six and one goal each was posted by Dorse and Brunner.
Murrel recorded 38 saves in goal.
Strong defensive play came from Meek, Alcone, Mosca, Chew and Zach Riegler.
Laguna resumes league play at 6 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 10) against Sage Hill at the Corona del Mar High pool.