Eagles fall behind

COSTA MESA — In its own pool and in front of its own fans, Estancia High received a clear message in the first seven minutes. Laguna Beach still owns the Orange Coast League in boys' water polo.

It does not matter where the Breakers play, at home, on the road, because they have not dropped an Orange Coast League match during its five-year existence.

Two teams have come close during the span. Estancia last year was one of the teams.

In one year, Laguna Beach widened the gap between itself and the Eagles. The Breakers continued their league dominance with a 23-7 win against the Eagles Wednesday.

"I think we were excited just today to kind of send a message and let them know that, not anything bad to them, just that we want to do well in league and we want a league title," Laguna Beach Coach Ethan Damato said.

"I think last year they came out and had a 4-2 lead on us in the first quarter. That gave us a little motivation going into today."

The Breakers (12-3, 2-0 in league) lit up the scoreboard in the opening quarter. They scored 10 goals, deflating the Eagles' hopes.

The Eagles entered the match with a 10-1 record, off to one of their best starts. They believed they were on the verge of contending for a league title.

The Breakers, ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division III coaches' poll, showed they are the team to beat once again. Six players scored goals for Laguna Beach in the first period as they took a commanding 10-2 lead.

The counterattack at the start overwhelmed Estancia, which is now 1-1 in league. Coach John Carpenter said the Breakers were just "too big, too fast, too strong" to contain.

One of the more imposing players, Tyler Mancusso, led the Breakers with six goals. Spencer Dodson had four goals and four steals, while Nicky Brunner, Jack Clark and Nolan McConnell each finished with three goals for Laguna Beach.

"I was a little surprised [with the outcome] because last year we were about even with them at halftime, and they only won by a few goals," Carpenter said. "It's hard to explain. They improved by tenfold over the last year."

Carpenter said if it wasn't for Estancia senior goalie Conner Graham making saves, Laguna might've scored 20 more goals. Senior Charlie Umansky recorded a hat trick for the Eagles and Preston Schow added two goals.

The Eagles return to their pool Saturday as hosts of the Estancia Classic. They resume tournament play against Saddleback and a victory ensures the Eagles a spot in the title match.

"When you get to play the No. 1 team in [Division III] and you lose big, you learn from it," said Carpenter, whose team's other loss this season was to Valencia of Placentia, the Division VII runner-up last season.

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