Breakers' D stuffs Tars

LAGUNA BEACH — There was pressing, crashing, storming and thunderous action at Laguna Beach High Friday. No, it wasn't about a weather report. Rather, it was a description of the Breakers' girls' water polo team.

The No. 5-seeded Breakers (22-7) had their way and used a stifling defense to dismantle No. 4-seeded Newport Harbor (23-6). There wasn't much the Sailors could do, as Laguna Beach scored a 7-3 win in a CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinal amid a steady downpour of rain.

With just under two minutes left in the third quarter, the Breakers were up, 7-1, and on their way to the semifinals in their first year in Division I. They'll try to continue their run when they go up against top-seeded Dos Pueblos, and their 65-game winning streak, in Wednesday's semifinals at the Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.

Newport Harbor, last year's Division I runner-up, missed on its opportunity to try to end that streak when it couldn't break down the Breakers.

"They played some very good defense; we couldn't score on them," Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett said. "We just couldn't get anything going offensively. Just out of sync. I think their defense had a heck of a lot to do with it."

The Breakers used a familiar defense, Coach Ethan Damato said.

"We pressed and crashed, that's what we've done all season," Damato said. "We threw a couple of wrinkles in and we matched a couple of girls up. And, our goalie was outstanding."

Damato said it was his team's best defensive performance of the season.

Goalie Edy Manetta led the charge with 10 saves. One of her bigger saves came with 4:39 left in the game, when she stuffed Maddy McLaren's shot on a power play with the Tars trailing, 7-3. That seemed to slam the door shut on the Sailors.

Laguna Beach senior Jessie Holechek set the tone in the first half, scoring four goals and leading the Breakers to a 5-1 halftime lead. She scored three goals in the first quarter.

Laguna held Newport scoreless through most of the first half. McLaren ended the drought when she scored 1:46 before halftime. But Holechek answered 13 seconds later.

"I don't know if we dominated, but I thought we controlled the pace all game," Damato said.

Newport Harbor, which matched its season low for goals in a game (9-3 loss to Los Alamitos, Jan. 19), went scoreless on its four power-play situations.

Mary Rose Wight and Catherine Carpenter also had goals for Newport Harbor.

"We did not play our game," Barnett said. "We sat around a lot, which contributed to our lack of offense.

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