Breakers in cruise control

The Laguna Beach High boys' water polo team made a statement Wednesday: it has no intention of relinquishing the Orange Coast League championship.

The Breakers, the No. 1-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 3, traveled to Costa Mesa to open league play against Estancia and routed the Eagles, 23-7. A balanced Laguna attack saw Tyler Mancusso score six goals, Spencer Dodson score four times, Nicky Brunner, Jack Clark and Nolan McConnell each score three times, Samer Alkateb score twice and Camron Hauer and Caleb Scott both post a goal.

McConnell and Tommy Renner had three and two assists, respectively, Dodson had four steals, McConnell three steals and Renner and Alkateb two steals apiece.. Goalie Erik Henrickson had 10 saves.

"We played with great intensity and focus in the Estancia game and gave ourselves an early lead in the first quarter for the second game in a row," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "Our counter attack was sharp and we seemed to be executing a little bit better every day this week. I was proud of our guys and how hard they played."

A day before disposing of Estancia, Laguna rolled to a 15-5 nonleague victory Tuesday against visiting Dana Hills. McConnell led the scoring with five goals and had two assists and four steals. Brunner scored three goals with an assist and four steals, Dodson had two goals, an assist and three steals and Mancusso finished with two goals, an assist and steal.

Single goals were scored by Clark, Renner and Hauer. Clark also had three assists and four steals and Renner and Hauer each had an assist and Renner and Alkateb both had a steal.

Henrickson stopped nine shots and picked up an assist and steal.

Dana Hills is ranked ninth in this week's Division 1 poll.

The Breakers previously defeated the Dolphins, 12-5, Sept. 23 at the South Coast Tournament.

"Dana Hills is a very tough team," Damato said. "Last time we met, they were up on us in the first quarter. In this game, we were up, 6-0. We played really well defensively, which sparked our counter attack in that first quarter. I was very pleased the way we executed on the counter attack and our overall intensity as a team.

"We still need to improve offensively and work on being more consistent from quarter to quarter, those are things we will focus on Friday against Murrieta Valley."

Laguna hosts Murrieta Valley at 3:30 p.m. today in a key nonleague match. The Nighthawks are the top-ranked team in Division 2.

In the coming week, the Breakers host Godinez in league play Wednesday (3:15 p.m.), then play another big nonleague game Thursday (4 p.m.) at Palos Verdes, which is ranked second to Laguna in Division 3.

"Well, this week Murrieta will be a great test and should give a good idea of what we need to improve on going into our biggest two weeks of the regular season," Damato said. "Next Thursday, we play Palos Verdes at their pool and the following Friday (Oct. 22) we play Damien, which is also away. Those games will determine where will be seeded going into the playoffs."

Damien currently is ranked third in the Division 3 poll.

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