Laguna finds way to win

Laguna Beach boys' water polo Coach Ethan Damato wasn't quite sure how it happened, but it did.

And he'll take it.

Trailing throughout Tuesday's nonleague match against visiting La Cañada, Laguna somehow managed to tie score seconds before the end of regulation, then went through two three-minute overtime periods to pull out a 14-11 victory over the stunned Spartans.

The anticipated match-up pitted two of the top teams in CIF Southern Section Division 1: defending-champion Laguna has been ranked No. 1 all season long; La Cañada is ranked fifth.

"It was a wild ending, for sure," Damato said after his team improved to 12-4. "We never led until overtime. I don't know how we did it, and the guys were stunned, too. It was an amazing team effort."

The Breakers trailed, 5-1, in the second quarter, were down, 8-4, in the third quarter and started the fourth behind, 8-5. Damato said he thought the Breakers got off their final shot — a miss, with just under 30 seconds left in regulation. La Cañada held possession and a 9-8 lead with no shot clock. The Breakers brought goalie Erik Henrikson out of the cage and pressed in the field, leaving an open net for La Cañada.

The Spartans moved the ball around before calling a timeout with 25 seconds left.

"I thought they'd just hold on to the ball and run out the clock," Damato said. "Then they called that timeout."

The Breakers took advantage of the move and Tommy Renner came up with a steal off the timeout to give the Breakers possession with 17 seconds left. Caleb Scott got off a shot that hit the bar with under 10 seconds to go, but Nicky Brunner was there to grab the rebound and his shot with four seconds left went into the net and tied the score.

The Breakers took a 10-9 lead in overtime on a goal by Renner, which was his only goal of the game. After La Cañada tied the score (10-10), Samer Alkateb's goal put Laguna in front for good.

Laguna outscored the Spartans, 5-2, in overtime.

Camron Hauer scored five goals, Riley Thomas had four goals and Brunner scored twice. Henrikson had 18 saves and two steals.

"He actually started the game off pretty slow but really picked it up and was a huge part in our going on our run," Damato said of Henrikson.

Laguna has defeated three teams that currently are, or had been, ranked in Division 3: No. 5 La Cañada, No. 6 Mira Costa and El Segundo, which was ranked No. 10 when it played the Breakers on Sept. 27. And the Breakers will be heavily challenged twice more in the coming week. At 4 p.m. Friday, they host fourth-ranked Palos Verdes. At 4 p.m. Tuesday, they host second-ranked Damien. Last November, Laguna defeated Damien in the CIF Division 3 championship game.

The Breakers played Tuesday without Nolan McConnell, but the senior starting attacker will be back in the lineup Friday.

There was no such drama for Laguna on Wednesday when it returned to Orange Coast League play to face Godinez. The Breakers overpowered the host Grizzlies, 22-2. They led, 6-0, after one quarter and were up, 12-1, at the half. Thomas netted a game-best five goals, Alkateb, Duncan Lynde and Jordan Wills all scored three goals and Hauer had six assists as the Breakers improved to 3-0 in league.

Laguna hosts Costa Mesa in league play at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.



The Laguna girls' team turned in an impressive showing in Fresno on Saturday by posting the second-fastest time by a Laguna team at Woodward Park (1 hour, 40 minutes 24 seconds). The team effort paved the way for a third-place finish (139 points) for the Breakers at the Clovis Invitational that drew three top 10-ranked teams in the state and four top-10 teams from the CIF Southern Section.

Twenty-three teams vied for the title that was won by Mayfield of Pasadena (91 points), the third-ranked team in CIF-SS Division 4 and fifth-ranked team in CIF State Division 4.

Laguna times at the Clovis Invitational (5,000 meters; 3.1 miles): Natasha Strickland (19:16, fifth-place); Janie Crawford (19:59, 25th-place); Eliza Romero (20:14, 34th-place); Carlee Ressler (20:22, 42nd-place); Marisa Merchant (20:33, 50th-place); Kay Baskevitch (20:46); Monica White (20:52); Amanda Ozuna (22:24).

The Breakers run Saturday at the Orange Coast Championships at Irvine Regional Park.


Girls' Golf

The Breakers took on Costa Mesa Tuesday and scored a 240-275 Orange Coast League victory over the Mustangs at Aliso Creek Golf Course (par 32) in Laguna Beach. Taylor Weiss shot a 38 to take medalist honors for Laguna. It was Weiss' lowest score at Aliso Creek, assistant coach Sean Quigley said.

The win put the Breakers at 4-2 in league play. They are second in the standings behind Estancia (5-1).

Laguna will take on both Costa Mesa and Estancia in rescheduled action during the league finals competition Monday at the Costa Mesa Golf & Country Club's Mesa Linda course. A tri-meet between the schools was rained out last week. Action on the first day of league finals starts at noon. The top 12 players from Monday advance to play another 18 holes at the Mesa Linda course Wednesday.

The combined scores from the two-day tournament will determine the all-league first- and second-team players.


Girls' Tennis

Laguna completed the first round of Orange Coast League play undefeated after earning 18-0 sweeps of both Saddleback and Costa Mesa.

Laguna played a nonleague match Friday against Tesoro, the 10th-ranked team in Division 1. The Titans were able to squeeze out a 10-8 victory.

Laguna won five of nine singles matches, highlighted by a battle between No. 1 singles players Lauren Michaels of Laguna and Mayci Jones of Tesoro. Jones rallied for a 7-5 win, but Michaels won her next two sets (6-4, 6-1). At No. 2 singles, Claire Jaeger scored a 6-3 win over national player Naomi Bharath and won two of three sets. Stephanie Tat won her first set, 6-3, to give the Breakers another singles point.

Tesoro held the edge over Laguna in doubles action, although the Breakers No. 2 team of Brooke Michaels and Kira Hamilton won two of three sets (6-2, 1-6, 6-1).

Laguna plays two home league matches next week, starting with a Tuesday match against Calvary Chapel. The Breakers return to the court on Thursday to face Godinez. Both matches start at 3 p.m.


Girls' Volleyball

The Breakers completed the first round of Orange Coast League play at 5-0 after posting their fifth straight league sweep, this time by defeating host Saddleback, 25-9, 25-10, 25-6. Marina Paul had 15 kills and seven digs and Alyse Wallace-Ford added 13 kills and seven digs. Allison Palmer had 32 assists, Alexx Murphy had six digs and two assists and Sevana Dvorak finished with three digs and three assists.

Laguna starts play Friday at the ASICS California Challenge, hosted by Torrey Pines High in San Diego County. The prestigious 32-team event concludes Saturday. . All matches will be played at Alliant International University.

The Breakers are the No. 2-seed behind Dos Pueblos (No. 3, Division 1) in Pool 4. Orange Lutheran (No. 8, Division 1) and Patrick Henry of the CIF San Diego Section complete the pool. Laguna plays Patrick Henry at 4 p.m., Orange Lutheran at 6 p.m. and Dos Pueblos at 8 p.m. Friday.

"We play in the Torrey Pines tournament at this time of the year because the competition there is amazing," Laguna Coach Lance Stewart said. "A tournament like this helps get us ready for the (CIF) playoffs and we still have Mira Costa (Oct. 24) and Edison (Nov. 3) to play at the end of the year."

Following the ASICS California Challenge, Laguna returns to league play at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday hosting Calvary Chapel.

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World