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Laguna girls place third in state

They were the third-seeded team in the tournament, and after the smoke had cleared they placed third overall.

But it was still just a tad disappointing for the Laguna Beach High girls’ water polo team over the weekend at the California State High School Championships.

Laguna felt like it had the talent to win the tournament, and was within a goal of advancing to the final.

But the Breakers were denied in the semifinals by Los Alamitos, 6-5, on Sunday morning at Corona del Mar High.

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Laguna Beach did come back to coast by Division II rival Palos Verdes, 13-6, in the third-place game.

“It was back and forth the whole way," Coach Ethan Damato said of the game against Los Al.

“We led for a lot of that game. I really felt we should have won that game."

In the quarterfinals, Laguna Beach survived a 9-7 overtime decision over Edison. Damato said Jessie Holechek scored two goals in a minute to rally the Breakers and send the game into overtime. In the extra time, Yoshi Andersen and Jessica Shusko scored goals and Laguna Beach didn’t look back.

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“I don’t think we ever thought we would lose that game," Damato said.

“We just weren’t quite clicking at this point of the tournament."

In earlier games, Laguna Beach got past Clovis West, 19-4, Mater Dei, 10-6, and Murrieta Valley, 6-2, at Mater Dei High.

This led the Breakers into the game against Edison.

Laguna Beach lost four very talented seniors in Annika Dries, Taylor Dodson, Sarah Zuziak and Natasha Schulman from last year’s CIF championship squad, but has shown that hopes are high for the upcoming season as well.

“To lose as much as we lost and come back and get third place in a great tournament, it says a lot," Damato said. “As disappointed as we were to not be in the finals, I’m very proud of the girls."

Top-seeded Newport Harbor took home the girls’ title, topping Los Alamitos, 11-6, in the final.

Laguna’s boys’ team had a more difficult time, although Damato noted that they were placed in a difficult pool that included top-seeded Newport Harbor, JSerra and Menlo.

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The Breakers lost all of those games, although the scores against JSerra (9-7) and Menlo (7-6) were close.

The tough-luck team then fell in another close game against Servite, 6-5, before topping Capistrano Valley, 10-7.

In the 29th-place game, Laguna Beach got past Menlo Atherton, 10-6.

Newport Harbor also won the boys’ tournament by topping Mater Dei, 8-3, in the final.

“We had some tough games against some quality teams, but the boys have had a great summer," Damato said.

Many of the top high school standouts for Laguna now prepare for the Junior Olympics, which begin this weekend. Damato said the boys then have three weeks off before the high school season gets underway.



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