Laguna Beach beats Dos Pueblos in semifinals rematch

Laguna Beach beats Dos Pueblos in semifinals rematch
Laguna Beach High's Sophia Lucas (8) shoots and scores in traffic during a nonleague girls' water polo game against Goleta Dos Pueblos at Santa Margarita High on Wednesday. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

A heavy wind can be a sign that a storm is coming.

The wind blew across the pool at Santa Margarita High on Wednesday night, the site for a CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals rematch between the Laguna Beach and Goleta Dos Pueblos girls’ water polo teams.


The storm of the analogy is the field, which is closing the gap between themselves and the Breakers. Laguna Beach went undefeated last year, winning all of its games by at least four goals.

Wednesday night’s contest proved that the Breakers will not be able to cruise to another title this year.


Sophia Lucas had three goals to go with two steals, and Thea Walsh turned in 14 saves as Laguna Beach defeated Dos Pueblos 7-5 in a nonleague game.

“We go into every game with a chip on our shoulder,” Evan Tingler said of the Breakers getting every team’s best shot after last year’s 31-0 record. “We have a certain pride with our team, and we try to carry that, keep that legacy going.

“We definitely know that we have really strong opponents this year. We don’t take anyone for granted.”

The Breakers and Chargers played at Santa Margarita because Laguna Beach’s pool is not big enough. The size did not matter to Laguna Beach, which won its 34th straight game dating back to last season.

Tingler had two goals for the Breakers, as did Rachael Carver.

Alex Peros drew three exclusions, setting up a Laguna Beach power play that converted on half of its six opportunities.

Laguna Beach (3-0) leads the all-time series between the teams 13-9. The Breakers are 11-5 against Dos Pueblos (1-1) since Ethan Damato began coaching at Laguna Beach in the 2008-09 season.

Walsh stopped three penalty shots in the first half, the first two against fellow Stanford commit Ryann Neushul.

“Personally, I love five meters,” Walsh said of the penalty shots. “I think they are one of my favorite things. I just like facing off, one on one.”

Tingler sympathizes with the opposition that has to take on Walsh.

“I think Thea is definitely in their heads,” she said. “At practice, I know that it is so frustrating for us because we shoot on her all day, and she stops all of our shots.

“We know that we have the best goalie behind us. I think that she played so amazing today.”

Goalie Thea Walsh makes one of her 14 saves in Laguna Beach's 7-5 win over Dos Pueblos on Wednesday.
Goalie Thea Walsh makes one of her 14 saves in Laguna Beach's 7-5 win over Dos Pueblos on Wednesday. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The teams were tied 1-1 after the first quarter. Laguna Beach led 4-3 at halftime, and the Breakers maintained that one-goal margin at 6-5 after the third quarter.

A goal from Tingler with six seconds left in the third quarter allowed the Breakers to start the final frame with the lead.

Damato noted that it is tough for a team to have to swim upwind for an entire quarter. Dos Pueblos had to swim into the wind in the fourth period, and the Chargers were unable to break through. Walsh made five saves in the final seven minutes.

In the final minute, Lucas was able to put the game away. Nicole Struss delivered a cross-cage pass that Lucas took out of the air, and all in one motion, she put a shot past Anna Cable (four saves) with 40 seconds to go.

“We spend a long time passing every day,” Lucas said. “In those tight moments, when there is a lot of pressure, the passing that we worked on really pays off.

“It’s super nice, obviously, to be able to catch it in the air and just shoot it right away.”