The 2010-11 sports year for Laguna Beach High started out with a bang and ended with more firepower. There was a CIF championship won (boys' water polo) in the first half of the year. In the closing months of the school year, two other teams (boys' tennis, boys' volleyball) captured CIF runner-up honors and another (baseball) enjoyed a historic season.
Below are some of the highlights during the school year.
Laguna Beach senior Taylor Pitz won the Open Women's division of National Scholastic Surfing Assn. (NSSA) Southwest Open Season series season opener.
By mid-October, the Laguna girls' golf team had earned a share of the 2010 Golden West League championship by winning its final three regular-season matches. The Breakers have won or shared three of the last four league crowns. Senior Christianne Kinder was one of four athletes from the league to qualify for the CIF Southern Section Girls' Golf Southern Individual Regional tournament.
In late-October, the Laguna girls' tennis team and boys' water polo team both wrapped up Orange Coast League titles. A few weeks later, the boys' and girls' cross-country teams also had earned league championships.
November began with the Laguna girls' volleyball team improving to 50-0 all-time in Orange Coast League play by winning at league newcomer Saddleback. A sweep of the Roadrunners gave the Breakers their fifth consecutive league championship.
By defeating fifth-ranked Mira Costa, 5-2, in a CIF Division 3 semifinal game at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine in mid-November, Laguna's top-ranked boys' water polo team advanced to play for a Southern Section championship for the first time since 1996. Three days later, the Breakers would reap a bigger a prize: the program's first CIF championship. The top-ranked Breakers did so by defeating No. 2 Damien, 11-9. Junior Nolan McConnell was named Player of the Year and Ethan Damato was Coach of the Year in Division 3. Seniors Spencer Dodson and Jack Clark and junior Erik Henrikson also were named to the D-3 All-CIF team.
"I really can't put into words what this means," Damato said after his postgame jump into the pool with his players and coaching staff following the big win over Damien. "I would have belly-flopped into the pool for these guys. They are a great team."
On the football field, Laguna concluded a 3-7 season by scoring a wild, 49-39 win over Saddleback. Senior receiver Chris Paul caught five touchdown passes in the game and set a new Orange County record for career touchdown receptions (42), tied his own school record of five touchdown receptions in a game and set a school record for points (30) scored in a game. A few weeks later, Coach Jonathan Todd stepped down from his post and Athletic Director Mike Churchilll was named as Todd's successor.
Laguna's girls' volleyball team held a 2-1 edge in games over top-ranked Marymount at Dugger Gym, but eventually fell in five games in the semifinals of the CIF Division 1A playoffs. Senior outside hitter Chanel Stewart and junior setter Allison Palmer both were named to the 2010 All-CIF Division 1A girls' volleyball team.
At the CIF Division 4 Cross-Country Championships at Mt. San Antonio College, the Laguna boys' team finished seventh in Division 4 and advanced to the CIF State Cross-Country Championships. Senior Matt Neev ran to a second-place finish in the boys' Division 4 final at Mt. SAC. At the State meet in Fresno, the Breakers placed seventh as a team and Neev claimed second place individually in the Division 4 race.
Laguna's girls' water polo team made its way again to the William Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine for the CIF Southern Section final four. The Breakers, who had won their fifth straight league championship, took top-ranked Dos Pueblos to the wire in an outstanding semifinal game but lost on a "golden goal," 14-13. The Breakers, playing their first season in Division 1, ended their year 22-8. Seniors Jessie Holechek and Jessica Shusko were co-MVPs of the Orange Coast League.
The season came to an end in February for both the Laguna girls' and boys' soccer teams, as neither qualified for the playoffs.
The season also ended in mid-February for the Laguna girls' basketball team in a CIF playoff loss to St. Anthony (Long Beach), which won the Division 4A championship.
The boys' basketball team bowed out of the CIF 4A playoffs a day after the girls' team was eliminated. The Breakers went 17-10 overall and won the league championship for a fifth straight year. Junior Tyler Masukawa was co-MVP of the Orange Coast League.
The Laguna girls' track and field team finished first and the Breakers' boys' team was third at the Orange Coast League Track & Field Championships on May 5.
The same day, the Laguna boys' and girls' teams won their divisions at the Orange Coast League Swimming Championships.
The Laguna girls' team finished second and the boys' team was fifth at the CIF Division 3 championships at Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach. Freshman Lila Vera was part of two CIF championship finishes, winning an individual title in the girls' 100 butterfly with a school-record time of 56.20 seconds. She also swam the fourth leg of the girls' 400 free relay team that was powered by Yoshi Andersen, Melena Masson and Jessica Shusko.
Two Laguna Beach golfers earned top-five finishes at the 2011 Golden West League boys' golf tournament came at El Dorado Park in Long Beach. Andrew Palmer finished third and teammate Tim Peterson was fifth. Palmer and Peterson made first-team all-league and advanced to play in the first round of the CIF Individuals tournament May 16 at Skylinks Golf Course in Long Beach.
The 2011 season was historic for both the Laguna softball and baseball programs. In softball, Laguna returned to varsity action for the first time since the 2006-07 school year. The Breakers finished fourth in the Orange Coast League and earned an at-large bid to the Division 5 playoffs. It was just the second postseason game for the program, the last coming 21 years ago.
On the baseball diamond, Laguna turned in a season the program hadn't experienced in its previous 72 years. The 2011 Breakers finished 27-3, won its first league title in 48 years and set nearly every offensive record for the program. In the process, Coach Seniors Chris Paul and Keaton Jones were named the league's Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, and both made All-CIF.
"This truly was what someone would call a 'dream season,' " Sears said. "It was the real deal where everything aligned. And the kids did it. They went out and played hard. And it was a lot of fun."
Just days before the Laguna boys' tennis team was to begin its season, the Breakers welcomed a new coach in Peter Davidson. In his first year, Davidson guided the Breakers to another league title and to the championship match of the CIF Division 4 playoffs, where they lost to defending champion Viewpoint. In an all-Laguna league finale, Jake Michaels defeated Teague Hamilton to win the singles title and Hutton McKenna/Morgan Lebby turned back Taylor Davidson/Nick Le to win the doubles crown.
The Laguna boys' volleyball team might have lost out on repeating as CIF champion, but the Breakers had no trouble in winning another CIF Southern California Regional title. A week after falling in the Division 2 final at Cypress College to Corona del Mar, the Breakers knocked off Francis Parker of San Diego in late-May to win their third-straight Division III regional championship.
"It's definitely a good way to go out," said senior opposite Robbie McKnight, who went on to make the All-CIF team along with teammate and senior libero, Troy Donenfeld. "It's a big accomplishment. We worked hard for it."