They are separated by nearly 60 miles of California coastline.
But today, the Laguna Beach and Palos Verdes high school girls’ water polo teams will see just how much separates them in the pool.
The top two teams in the CIF Southern Section DIivsion II poll meet at 3:15 p.m. at Palos Verdes High. It will be their only meeting until a possible showdown in the Division II finals, and it may determine who gets the top seed for CIF.
Palos Verdes (12-4) has been ranked No. 1 in Division II for much of the season. Defending CIF champion Laguna took the top spot last week, but the Sea Kings grabbed it back after upsetting Newport Harbor, 8-7, on Saturday.
Laguna (13-5) tuned up for today’s showdown by routing Godinez in an Orange Coast League match Wednesday, 21-4. Alia Manetta scored three goals for Laguna and Yoshi Andersen, Riley Duncan, Jessie Holechek, Lexie Ross and Sydney Saxe all scored twice. Laguna led, 9-0, after a quarter.
With all other league teams with at least one loss, the Breakers have clinched at least a share of yet another Orange Coast League title. They’ll be heavy favorites to clinch it outright when they host Costa Mesa on Feb. 10.
In previous action, the Breakers fell to a hot Foothill team, 11-6, on Saturday at the Laguna pool.
“We were just a step slow, in pretty much every aspect," Laguna Beach Coach Ethan Damato said. “I think we had three turnovers out of three timeouts."
Foothill jumped to a 3-1 lead after a quarter. Laguna used goals from Andersen and a six-on-five strike from Holechek to knot the score at 3, yet Foothill, ranked No. 8 in Division I, had an answer. The Knights used goals from sophomore center McKenna Mitchell, as well as senior Olivia Cummins and junior Kelli Boling, in the final two minutes of the first half. It gave the Knights a 6-3 lead and the Breakers never drew closer than two goals in the second half, as Foothill also used nice goalie play from Rachel Noll.
“Hopefully it’s a little bit of wake-up call, and we’ll regroup," Damato said. “It’s not the end of the world. It’s a tough loss against a good team that’s playing well right now."
After today’s game at Palos Verdes, the Breakers play at Riverside Poly on Tuesday and then prepare for the Irvine Southern California Championships, which begin Thursday.