Laguna still reigns supreme

The Orange Coast League crown is again possessed by the Laguna Beach girls' water polo team.

The Breakers won their fifth consecutive Orange Coast League championship and kept their league record perfect in that span by taking down host Costa Mesa, 23-6, Wednesday. Ten players scored for Laguna, which bolted to a 10-1 first-quarter lead and held a 17-4 advantage at the half.

"The girls had a good game and looked sharp on both ends and executed well early," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "We played very well in the first half. We were able to rest our starters and give the younger players a chance to play. Sophomore Sydney Saxe played very well at center for us."

Saxe contributed five goals and two assists and registered four drawn exclusions. Junior Yoshi Andersen tallied three goals, two assists and two steals, senior Jessie Holechek had three goals, an assist and two steals and junior Melena Masson had three goals.

Mackenzie Baldridge scored twice and Lida DeGroote, Riley Duncan, Jessica Shusko and Kate Magnusson all scored once. Alia Manetta had two assists, Etianne Manetta four saves and Jenna Knott three saves.

On Monday, Laguna — ranked seventh in CIF Division 1 — hosted San Clemente, the top-ranked team in Division 2. The Tritons took a 3-2 halftime lead but a big second half by the Breakers led them to an 8-6 victory.

Holechek had three goals, Shusko and Anderson two apiece and Masson scored once.

"We had a great third quarter where we went on a 4-1 run," Damato said. "This was a big win for us, as we did not play our best water polo but still found a way to win.

Laguna was also impressive in another nonleague encounter Jan. 28. The Breakers routed ninth-ranked Palos Verdes, 18-3, at the Laguna pool. Lexie del Toro led the charge with six goals, Holechek scored five times and Masson four goals.

The Breakers completely dominated the Sea Kings and rolled to an 11-0 lead into the half.

"That was one our best games of the season thus far," Damato said. "We came out excited and played very well defensively, which sparked our counter attack and got us some easy opportunities. It was a fun game to watch."

Laguna (14-6 3-0 in league) is playing this weekend at the Irvine Southern California Women's Water Polo Championships tournament, which began Thursday. Thirty-two top-rated teams, split equally into four brackets, are competing for the title. The Breakers, who will play five games through Saturday, will play at the Santa Margarita High pool today. They are the No. 2-seed in the Santa Margarita bracket behind Los Alamitos, the No. 2 team in CIF Division 1. The rest of the pool includes Santa Margarita, Murrieta Valley, San Marcos, Mira Costa, Cathedral Catholic and Long Beach Millikan.

"We are excited to play this weekend and look forward to playing some better water polo than we have the last two weeks," Damato said. "At this time of the year, we want to play in as many big games as possible and get hot at the right time.

"This should be a great challenge for our girls and some great experience heading into the playoffs."

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