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Breakers tuning up for CIF

A busy past week in the pool continues today and Saturday for the Laguna Beach High girls’ water polo team.

Beginning last Friday, the Breakers went up against highly ranked teams in Palos Verdes and Mater Dei. Today, they continue play at the Irvine Southern California Championships. The 32-team tournament is being played at the pools at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine, Corona del Mar and El Toro.

Laguna is the No. 2 seed behind Newport Harbor at the El Toro pool.

The event is the third major tournament the Breakers have played in this season and it’s the last major tournament of the regular season.

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“Our goal at the beginning of this season was to go to the semifinals of all three of our tournaments," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. “After winning the Villa Park Classic, we fell short in Santa Barbara at the Tournament of Champions and took fifth place. We feel like we can be the best team in Southern California, but have failed to prove that thus far.

“We are excited that we get another chance this weekend."

The Breakers began the So-Cal tournament on Thursday against Canyon of Anaheim. The score wasn’t available at press time.

Laguna passed two major tests leading up the to tournament.

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Last Friday, the Breakers handed Palos Verdes a 17-9 defeat in a match-up between the top-ranked and third-ranked teams in Division II. Natasha Schulman scored four goals, had two assists and a steal and was three for three on penalty attempts. Annika Dries scored four goals with an assist and drew three kickouts. Taylor Dodson scored twice with an assist and a steal, Jessie Holechek scored twice, Melena Masson had two goals, an assist and two steals and Lexie Ross scored twice.

Ettiane Manetta recorded 12 saves and a pair of steals.

“The girls came out hot and dominated the first half, going up 10-2," Damato said. “We shot very well and played tough defense matching up with their top three players.

“We seem to really get up for the divisional games and have a different kind of intensity. I think this year the girls are determined to go into CIF with a No. 1 seed."

Laguna added to its impressive season résumé Tuesday by handing host Mater Dei a 14-7 loss. The Monarchs are ranked eighth in Division I. Dries posted a game-high six goals with two assists and a steal. Dodson had two goals and two assists, Schulman added a goal and assist with three steals, Ross had two goals, three assists and three steals and Yoshi Andersen scored three times with an assist.

Following the weekend tournament, Laguna concludes Orange Coast League play at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday at home against Costa Mesa. A win over the Mustangs would give the Breakers their third consecutive perfect record in the three-year history of the league.

Laguna ends its regular season Feb. 13 with a nonleague game at Corona del Mar.


MIKE SCIACCA covers sports. He can be reached at (714) 966-4611 or by e-mail at michael.sciacca@latimes.com.

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