The Laguna Beach girls' soccer team had only one game scheduled this week before it was to take off for the desert two days after Christmas.
But a tune-up for the Breakers' upcoming trip never materialized as rainy conditions forced the cancellation of Monday's nonleague game with University, Laguna Coach Bill Rolfing said.
The Breakers last played Dec. 16 against Laguna Hills. They hung tough and stayed with last year's Division 2 quarterfinalists, but the Hawks used a last-minute goal to secure a 2-0 nonleague victory.
Prior to the Laguna Hills mach, Laguna participated at the Ocean View Holiday Tournament, where it went 1-2-1. The Breakers used goals by April Carlson and Johana Abarca and strong play in goal by senior Ryan Bakkum to defeat Garden Grove. The two losses were to Huntington Beach and Brea-Olinda and the tie came against Fullerton.
"The tough pre-season schedule presents a challenge to the entirely new- look 2010 Breaker varsity squad," Rolfing said. "So far, most of the competition this year has been against large schools laden with premier-gold club players. The objective at this point is to create unity with a new, young group of Breaker girls so that they can compete. Winning will show in league play."
The Breakers head to the desert next week to play a trio of nonleague games during the holiday break. First, they take on Xavier College Prep at 1 p.m. Monday. Next is an 11 a.m. match Tuesday against Indio and an 11 a.m. game Wednesday against Palm Desert completes the trip.
"The three-day trip to Palm Desert each year gives the players an opportunity to bond and also gives the coaches a chance to finalize player positions in preparation to Orange Coast League play," Rolfing said. "The competition is strong in the desert, but the girls really look forward to relaxing and going out together as a team after each day's match. Every year, the team seems to return from the trip with an increased sense of camaraderie."
Like the girls' team, Coach Dan Richards said the Laguna boys' soccer team had their game Wednesday against visiting Orange Lutheran cancelled because of rain and Guyer Field being flooded.
The Breakers were able to squeeze in a Dec. 17 home nonleague game against Dana Hills and played the Dolphins to a 1-1 tie.
"I was very happy with the performance all the players put in during the game and they handled the tough weather conditions extremely well," Richards said. ""It is a true testament to the lads that they are able to take on a large D1 school like Dana and still keep their unbeaten record this season.
"It was a very fast-paced and exciting game, with both teams having their opportunities to score."
Sam Stinnett scored a "great goal," Richards said, with the play of Morgan Curry creating the scoring opportunity. Alec Williams made a few big saves in goal to help preserve the tie.
"The most pleasing aspect of the game for me was seeing how disappointed the team was not to win the game," Richards said. "There is a true belief in the squad that we can compete with anyone this year and it is this confidence that will be key to our success this season. The senior players on the team are a huge reason for this and have taken on their leadership roles very well."
Laguna has next week off and returns to action Jan. 4 with a 7 p.m. nonleague game against Orange. The Breakers open Orange Coast League play Jan. 12 at Estancia.
Girls' Water Polo
Laguna completed an impressive week by knocking off three ranked foes, including old nemesis Agoura.
The Breakers, ranked sixth in CIF Division 1, capped a 2-0 run over a three-day period against ranked Sunset League competition by defeating No. 10 Fountain Valley, 11-3, on Dec. 16 at the Laguna pool. Jessie Holechek's five goals paved the way offensively for Laguna. Six other Breakers — Yoshi Andersen, Lida De Groote, Lexie del Toro, Riley Duncan, Melena Masson and Sydney Saxe — scored single goals. Holechek, del Toro and Masson each had two steals and goalie Etianne Manetta registered 18 saves.
"I was very pleased with our overall defensive effort in the game," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said of the Fountain Valley win. "That was an area we wanted to improve after giving up nine and 10 goals to Mater Dei and Edison. Our defenders, Jessica Shusko and Melena Masson, did a great job on their two top players."
Two days earlier, Laguna defeated No. 8 Edison, also of the Sunset League, 11-10, on Dec. 14.
The Breakers capped their big week Saturday by defeating Agoura, the top-ranked team in Division 2, 11-7, at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. They did so by coming back from a 2-0 deficit and then broke away from a 4-4 halftime tie by holding the Chargers scoreless in the third quarter, a quarter in which Laguna posted five goals to take a 9-4 lead.
"Once we settled into our defense and got our counter-attack rolling, we outscored them, 9-2, in the second and third quarters," Damato said. "We got two big goals from sophomore Sydney Saxe coming off the bench and got some much-needed energy from fellow sophomores Alia Manetta and Lexie del Toro, who also came off the bench.
"It was a great team effort and another game that gave us an opportunity to play high level competition and improve as a team."
Holechek again led the charge with four goals. Andersen, Saxe and Shusko each scored twice and had two assists and Masson had a goal. Defensively, Holechek, Andersen and Masson each had three steals and del Toro, Manetta and Shusko each had two steals and Etianne Manetta also had nine saves.
Laguna will compete at the 16-team Newport Harbor-Corona del Mar Holiday Cup tournament that begins Thursday and concludes Dec. 31. The Breakers are in Group B, along with co-host Corona del Mar, Santa Barbara, Edison, Santa Margarita, Cathedral Catholic, Poway and Rosary. Group B games will be played at the CdM pool. The Breakers, the No. 2 seed in the group, begin the tournament Dec. 30 against No. 7 Poway at 10:40 a.m.