Laguna passes early tests

Two days before the Laguna Beach girls' water polo team was to face a pair of tough, early-season opponents, Breakers Coach Ethan Damato expected his team to be severely challenged by Mater Dei and Edison.

His Breakers rose to the top on both occasions, though, winning each game against ranked opponents that kept them undefeated.

"The girls really played well in both games," Damato said. "We got a win at home against Mater Dei and then came here (Huntington Beach) to face a very good Edison team. I was real happy with our performances"

Laguna traveled to Ocean View High on Tuesday to face Edison in a match that featured the No. 6 and No. 8-ranked teams in CIF Southern Section Division 1. The sixth-ranked Breakers never trailed in the game and overwhelmed the Chargers in the second half to emerge with a 15-7 victory.

The win came just four days after a 12-9 triumph over a Mater Dei team that is ranked No. 1 in Division 2.

"I felt that we played fast and swam well the entire game," Damato said of the Edison victory. "There was an offensive sequence in the second half where we used the entire shot clock and scored off a quick catch-and-release shot that was really pretty. We also made some key stops defensively, including a great stop on a penalty shot by Jenna (Knott) that was huge."

Laguna (4-0) scored the final three goals of the first quarter to break away from a 2-2 score. Freshman Makenzie Fischer scored twice and senior Yoshi Andersen and juniors Mackenzie Baldridge and Lexie Del Toro each scored once in the quarter. Another goal by Fischer, this one coming on a 6-on-5 advantage for Laguna, extended the lead to 6-2 just 38 seconds into the second quarter.

The Breakers, however, went scoreless during the final 6:22 of the opening half. Edison (3-3 trimmed its deficit to 6-4 at the half on goals by Melissa Balding and UCLA-bound Alys Williams. Knott, Laguna's sophomore goalie, earlier had come up with a big block of a penalty shot by Williams with 5:50 left in the half.

Laguna senior Melena Masson, who next year will play at Stanford, also prevented another scoring opportunity for the Chargers in the quarter when she came up with a steal in front of the Laguna cage with the Breakers in a 6-on-5 disadvantage.

"I thought we got a little tired out there in the second quarter and missed some shots," Damato said. "The girls did a nice job with the adjustments we talked about at halftime and really went out and played well in the second half."

Within the first four minutes of the second half, Laguna had taken complete control. Getting goals from Andersen, Baldridge and Fischer, the Breakers built their lead to 9-4, and never looked back.

Andersen, who said she committed to Harvard earlier in the week, led all scorers with five goals and also had three assists.

Against Mater Dei, Laguna turned a 3-1 first-quarter advantage into a 7-3 halftime lead. Fischer led all scorers with four goals and also had a steal. Anderson had three goals, an assist and two steals.

Laguna will compete next week at the Newport Harbor Holiday Cup Tournament. The 16-team, two-day event runs Dec. 30-31. The Breakers open against Poway at 11:45 a.m. Dec. 30 at the Corona del Mar High pool. Tournament games will be played at Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar.

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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