For the second time in a six-day period, the Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar girls' water polo teams met, and in each instance played exciting, tough matches that went to the wire.
The second of the two games was played Wednesday at the CdM pool, and despite holding a two-goal lead in the second quarter, Laguna eventually fell, 5-4, to the Sea Kings.
Last Friday, in the semifinals of the Holiday Cup hosted by Newport Harbor and CdM, the Breakers lost in overtime to the Sea Kings.
Laguna took a 3-1 lead in the second quarter of Wednesday's nonleague game, but CdM came back to score twice in the quarter to tie the score at the half. The Breakers retook the lead by scoring first in the third quarter, but the Sea Kings posted the equalizing goal before the quarter was out, then scored the winning goal in the fourth quarter.
Melena Masson led Laguna with two goals. Lexie del Toro and Jessie Holechek both scored once and Etianne Manetta had seven saves and a steal.
"Whenever we play CDM, it makes for a very competitive game," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "In my mind, we are two very evenly matched teams and either team could win on any given day. Today, they won the battle of 6-on-5, they finished 3-6 and we finished 0-5. That was the major difference. I put that on me, it's my job to put our team in good spots to score on 6-on-5 and we didn't do that today. I have no doubts we will improve in that area, as we are normally very good on our 6-on-5 and 5-on-6.
"We had some matchups that we wanted to work that I thought worked well for us today. As a team we held them to only two natural goals. We will have some new tweaks next time we see them. They are a very good team, but we are confident if we play well, we can beat them."
At the two-day Holiday Cup played Dec. 30 and 31, Laguna posted a 3-1 overall record and took third place. The Breakers, ranked sixth in Division 1, routed Cathedral Catholic (17-3), beat fourth-ranked Santa Barbara (5-4) in the quarterfinals before falling, 8-7, in the semifinals to fifth-ranked CdM.
Laguna topped No. 7 Foothill, 9-8, in the third-place game.
"I was really happy to see us compete the way we did," said Damato, who added that the third-place finish was the program's best finish at the tournament. "We were only one goal away from the finals and I know we will get better."
The Breakers are 7-2 overall. Next week, they'll take on Estancia at the Orange Coast League Showcase at the Costa Mesa High pool. On Thursday, they'll face another big challenge when they play at Dos Pueblos, a game Damato said "should be a great test" for his squad.
The undefeated Chargers are ranked No. 1 in Division 1 and won the Holiday Cup title.
"We are playing some great polo," he said. "We have 16 girls in our program and we are going toe-to-toe with the top teams in Southern California. I have been very pleased with the way our girls have responded to moving up to Division 1. They seem to rise to the occasion with whoever we play. It's been very fun to watch."