The Laguna Beach girls' soccer team, whose home nonleague game Monday against San Juan Hills was cancelled due to a rain out, returned to action Wednesday and ran visiting Orange right out of Guyer Field.
The Breakers scored an emphatic 8-0 nonleague victory. It was the second lopsided win in a row for Laguna, which shut out Palm Desert, 7-0, Dec. 29.
"We played with a new confidence," Laguna Coach Bill Rolfing said. "The 8-0 win was a result of fine finishing up top, but more importantly, a sense of structure throughout the midfield. The passing connections out of defense into the midfield were well done and we held the possessions with composure."
Marina Paul and Jenny Maddocks led the way, with Paul scoring four goals. Rolfing said that freshmen Johana Abarca and Tessa Hopper "shined on offense and defense, respectively." Senior keeper Ryan Bakkum recorded her third shutout of the season.
Rolfing also praised the play of his roster, saying that senior veterans Krista French and Ally Manfrini "demonstrated excellent defensive play," that sophomore right wing Mellissa Chapman "added to the offense" and sophomore Sarah Hewlett had "another stellar match" at center defense.
"The win provides confidence, but we know league will be a greater challenge each and every match," Rolfing said.
Prior to blanking Orange on Wednesday, the Breakers made their annual holiday break excursion to the Palm Springs area, this time for three nonleague matches. Laguna went 3-0 on the trip, with wins over Xavier Prep, Indo and Palm Desert.
"The team came together well, with good composure in the defense and establishing new strength shooting at goal," Rolfing said. "The trip always provides a good bonding opportunity, with off-field activities for the three-day trip. Important, confidence-building trip. Fun, too."
On Saturday, the program hosts its Alumni Game at 11 a.m. at Guyer Field. Rolfing said that as of Thursday, plenty of players who graduated in the past two years are scheduled to play.
Next week, the Breakers begin Orange Coast League play with a 4:45 p.m. Tuesday game at Estancia.
The Breakers end nonleague play with a 5-3-2 record. The two draws came against San Juan Hills (1-1, season-opener Dec. 2) and Fullerton (0-0, Dec. 6), both at the Ocean View tournament.
"I see now better offensive flow in our game, but a new defense that is still settling in," Rolfing said. "It will be critical for every position on the pitch to defend any possession losses.
"I sense our league has improved, with Godinez emerging with a good preseason and Estancia returning many players from last year. Calvary (Chapel) had the best season in their history and will be back for more."
Last year, Laguna went undefeated in the second half of league play to advance to the CIF playoffs for a second straight year, a first for the program, Rolfing said.
Laguna, playing its first match in two weeks, picked up a 2-1 nonleague victory Tuesday over host Orange at Fred Kelly Stadium.
The Breakers got the win when Sam Stinnett scored on a penalty kick late in the match to break a 1-1 tie.
Reece Barton scored the game's first goal early in the second half before the Panthers drew even.
"I was very happy that the boys managed to get the win, especially as the weather over the last couple of weeks had made it very hard for us to prepare properly," Laguna Coach Dan Richards said. "This was our first game for a few weeks, which always means it was going to be difficult.
"The first half was a very cagey affair, with neither team really creating many opportunities. We came out a lot more positive in the second half and started to put more pressure on the Orange back line. It was then only a matter of time before we would get some clear opportunities and get the breakthrough."
The Breakers again have a little break — eight days, to be exact — before taking the field again. On Wednesday, they'll start their Orange Coast League season at Estancia. Game time is 4:45 p.m.
Laguna, 2-0-2 overall, hosts Calvary Chapel on Jan. 14 at Guyer Field.
"I have been very pleased with the attitude and work rate of all the lads so far this season," Richards said. "They have come together extremely well as a team and shown great camaraderie, which I feel is going to be a key component for success this season. We know that there is a lot of work still to be done and must continue to grow and progress as a team. We are still building this program and the players must continue to learn how to manage game situations and play against these very talented teams.
"All of the schools in our league have a lot of extremely good soccer players and are very strong. I expect the league title race to be very tight, with every school being able to beat each other on any given day. Whichever team is the most consistent and gets that little bit of luck, will walk away with the title this year."