Breakers continue to impress

The Laguna Beach girls' water polo team followed up an outstanding showing in last weekend's Irvine Southern California Championships on Wednesday by sewing up another undefeated Orange Coast League championship.

The Breakers did so by overpowering host Saddleback, 23-2.

Sydney Saxe scored four goals to lead the way on offense. Anya Miller scored three goals and Melena Masson, Lida DeGroote, Lexie del Toro, Marley Donnenfeld and Kate Magnuson all scored twice.

Laguna is 19-7 overall and went 4-0 in league.

"I think after such a competitive tournament, the girls enjoyed having an easier game and had a good time watching everyone on the team get in the scoring column," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said of Wednesday's win.

In its first two tournament games Feb. 3 at Santa Margarita High, Laguna downed Cathedral Catholic (CIF San Diego Section) and Santa Margarita by 13-4 scores. Yoshi Andersen had three goals, two assists and five steals, Riley Duncan two goals and two assists, Jessie Holechek and Alia Manetta both had two goals and two steals, Saxe had two goals and an assist and Etianne Manetta had eight saves in the win over Cathedral Catholic. Andersen and Holechek both scored four times and Etianne Manetta registered 12 saves and five steals in defeating Santa Margarita.

On Feb. 4, the Breakers were even more impressive. Laguna perhaps picked up its best win of the season when it scored the only goal in overtime to down Sunset League leader Los Alamitos, 8-7. The Griffins are the second-ranked team in Division 1. Holechek had four goals, two assists and two steals to lead the way and scored the game-winning goal in sudden-death overtime.

The wins over Cathedral Catholic and Santa Margarita gave the Breakers added confidence heading into their meeting with the Griffins.

"Going into the Los Al game I knew that if the girls continued to play at that level, then we would be very tough to beat," Damato said. " We match up well with Los Al and know their players very well.

"The girls came out confident and opened a 4-0 lead in the first half and just wouldn't be denied that night. We played great team water polo and found a way to win."

The Breakers continued their hot streak in the tournament Saturday, where they took care of third-ranked Santa Barbara, 11-6, in a semifinal game. Laguna trailed, 2-1, after one quarter but shut out the Dons in the second quarter to take a 4-2 lead into the half. Masson scored four goals with two assists and a pair of steals and Duncan had three goals and two assists and a steal.

Laguna avenged an 8-5 loss to the Dons on Jan. 14 at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

Now 4-0 in the tournament, Laguna advanced to face top-ranked Dos Pueblos in the championship game. Laguna took a 3-2 lead in the first quarter but the Chargers shut out the Breakers in the second quarter to open up a 5-3 halftime advantage. They went on to post a 13-6 victory, their second of the season over the Breakers.

Dos Pueblos also edged Laguna, 10-8, in a Jan. 13 nonleague game.

The Breakers couldn't contain the Chargers Kiley Neushul, who led all scorers with five goals.

"We went up 3-1 and then we ran out of gas," Damato said. "It seemed like Dos Pueblos and Kiley Neushul were just getting started. They are really good. I think Kiley finished with five goals. It felt like 10 during the game."

Holechek and Masson were selected to the all-tournament team.

Laguna concludes its regular season at 3:15 p.m. today with a home nonleague game against Santiago. The Breakers on Sunday will learn who they will host in the opening round of the CIF Division 1 playoffs, which start next week.

Undefeated Dos Pueblos is the odds-on favorite to win the Division 1 crown.

"We moved up in the ranking this week, but it really does not matter where you end up, the top eight teams in D-1 are all really good," Damato said of his team's No. 5 ranking in the final regular-season poll. "We feel like we can beat anyone of them right now and we are excited for the playoffs."

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