Breakers start strong

The top dog in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 boys' water polo playoffs is moving on.

Laguna Beach rolled from the start of its first-round game against Temple City on Wednesday and scored an easy 20-5 victory against the visiting Rams.

The win puts the Breakers into today's quarterfinals, where they will host Aliso Niguel in a 3:15 p.m. contest.

The Wolverines, the No. 2 team from the South Coast League, also won their first-round match Wednesday by scoring a last-second 10-9 win against visiting El Segundo.

Laguna and Aliso Niguel met earlier this month, with the Breakers scoring a 16-4 nonleague victory Nov. 3.

"The guys have been really excited about the playoffs all week," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "In the first two quarters, I thought our counter-attack looked sharp and we played excellent defense."

Eight Breakers scored, led by six goals by Nolan McConnell. Tyler Mancusso scored four goals, Spencer Dodson and Nicky Brunner each scored three goals, Caleb Scott had two goals and Jack Clark, Samer Alkateb and Camron Hauer each scored once.

McConnell had six takeaways and Alkateb led the Breakers with two assists. Erik Henrickson registered six saves.

Laguna took a 7-1 lead after the first quarter and took a commanding 15-2 lead into the half.

Temple City, the third-place team out of the Rio Hondo League, won a wild-card game Tuesday, 14-8, against Claremont to earn a date with Laguna.

Orange Coast League champion Laguna is the top-seed in the division. The other three seeds in the tournament are Sierra League champion Damien, Bay League co-champ Palos Verdes and Rio Hondo League champ La Canada. Montebello is the defending division champion.

"At this point, seeding really doesn't matter," Damato said. "It's lose, and you're out, and we know that. Aliso Niguel is a scrappy team and I expect them to give us a heck of a game."

In its regular season finale last Friday, Laguna took care of host Mission Viejo in nonleague play, 20-7.

Clark and McConnell each scored five goals in a Breakers attack that saw Hauer score three goals, Brunner, Dodson and Tommy Renner each score twice and Alkateb score once. Henrickson had eight saves.

The winner of today's Aliso Niguel-Laguna Beach game advances to Wednesday's semifinals at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine.

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