The Laguna Beach High girls' water polo team wasn't tested in its Orange Coast League opener Wednesday, breezing to a 25-6 win at Estancia.
Today will be a different story.
The Breakers, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division II poll, begin play this morning at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions. Among the 16 teams at the tournament, Laguna is seeded No. 5 and second in Pool D behind Corona del Mar. The Sea Kings beat the Breakers, 4-2, in the third-place game of the Holiday Cup last month and a rematch could happen in the TOC quarterfinals at 6:50 p.m. today at Dos Pueblos High of Goleta.
The Breakers (9-3) open the tournament at 4:05 p.m. today against Vista, at Dos Pueblos. Dos Pueblos, a tournament co-host and the defending CIF Southern Section Division I champion, is the top-seeded team in the tournament.
Last year, the Breakers finished fifth in Santa Barbara.
The Tournament of Champions is the second of three big tournaments for Laguna. The third is the SoCal Tournament, beginning Feb. 4 at Irvine High.
In Wednesday's easy victory against Estancia, 15 Breakers scored goals. Junior Etianne Manetta "” normally the goalie "” scored three goals, as did junior Lida DeGroote and freshman Sydney Saxe. Mackenzie Baldridge, Marley Donnenfeld, Jessie Holechek and Kaitlin Waidley were among the players who scored twice each, and freshman Kate Magnusson also had a solid game with a goal and six steals.
After the Tournament of Champions this weekend, Laguna is off until it plays host to Foothill in a key nonleague game at noon Jan. 23.
The Breakers fell to 0-1-1 in Orange Coast League play after dropping a home decision to Calvary Chapel, 2-0, on Tuesday. Senior Victoria Ellis had nine saves for Laguna but the Breakers were unable to produce many scoring chances.
"They were a pretty club-loaded team," Coach Bill Rolfing said. "We were sort of on our heals."
Previously, the Breakers had tied Costa Mesa, 1-1, in their league opener Jan. 7. They were behind late in the match but scored the equalizer off a free kick. Junior midfielder Jenny Maddocks blasted a shot just below the bar, but the Costa Mesa goalie deflected it away for a corner kick.
Maddocks took the corner kick and found a leaping sophomore Marina Paul, who headed the ball home at the far post.
Laguna had a bye Thursday and plays at Estancia in its next Orange Coast League match at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
"We're looking forward to it," Rolfing said.
After a rough preseason, Laguna appears to be coming together at just the right time.
The Breakers topped Calvary Chapel, 56-39, on Wednesday night at home to improve to 2-0 in Orange Coast League play.
"I felt like we kind of had a change of attitude after the Irvine game [a 47-16 loss on Jan. 4]," Coach Bret Fleming said. "It was a humbling loss. We focused on working hard and having the enthusiasm for what we're doing. The kids have practiced hard and turned the corner a little bit. [The game] against Calvary was probably our best performance of the year so far."
Senior Adam Selevan led Laguna Beach (6-11) with 22 points, including four three-pointers, and Fleming praised his offensive and defensive efforts. Freshman Jake Dalke added 11 points, Derek Reigel had 10, and fellow sophomore Tyler Masukawa added seven.
In their league opener, the Breakers got past Costa Mesa, 57-47, on Jan. 8. Dalke led the way with a career-high 18 points.
"He played real well," Fleming said. "He's kind of learning stuff on the fly and doing a lot of growing."
The defending league-champion Breakers have a bye tonight and won't return to action until they play at Estancia on Wednesday night. Estancia lost to Calvary Chapel to open league, so Laguna is currently in sole possession of first place after two games. Godinez (1-0 in league) is a half-game behind.
"I think Calvary and Estancia are the favorites and probably have the most talent," Fleming said. "So that was big for us to beat Calvary. I think [the league champion] is going to be who stays healthy and finds a way to win the close ones."
Similar to their male counterparts, the Breakers girls are improving. They showed it Tuesday night against Calvary Chapel, posting a 59-29 win.
Junior Emily Writer had her usual strong game with 27 points for the Breakers (5-13, 1-1 in league). But it was contributions from teammates such as junior Sam Garner (12 points and nine blocked shots), freshman Lola Cowie (11 points) and senior Grace Komoroczy (six points) that helped the Breakers win going away.
"They've developed confidence in themselves and Emily has developed confidence in them," Coach Jon Hendrickson said. "I think the girls are starting to believe they're a pretty good team. [Tuesday] was a pretty good demonstration."
Laguna lost to Costa Mesa, 63-55, to open league Jan. 7. But even that result was a big improvement from when the Mustangs ran over the Breakers, 68-36, at the Corona del Mar Tournament in early December. Writer had 26 points in the league opener before fouling out. Garner had 13 and sophomore Holly Battle added six.
Hendrickson said he considers Estancia, Godinez and Costa Mesa the top teams in the league, but his team can also compete.
"All three of those teams are neck-and-neck," he said. "But I think the [Breakers] girls are gaining confidence as the games go on."
Laguna had a bye Thursday and is back to league play at Estancia on Tuesday night.
Writer is averaging 22.4 points per game for the Breakers, fourth in the county.