High School Roundup: Breakers brilliant late in season

A young Laguna Beach High girls' soccer team showed a glimpse of its future potential by turning in strong performances over the final two weeks of the 2012-13 regular season.

In the last three games of the Orange Coast League season, the Breakers didn't lose a match and started the late run with an inspiring, shutout road victory over league-leader Godinez on Jan. 31. They followed that up with another shutout win Monday at Calvary Chapel, and on Wednesday, battled visiting Costa Mesa to a scoreless tie on senior night at Guyer Field.

Laguna ended the regular season on a six-game unbeaten streak. The Breakers went 3-3-4 during league competition with all three losses coming by a single goal.

"Three early-season, one-goal losses will haunt this very young squad, but the team's recent surge into the playoff picture has been exciting and rewarding," Laguna Coach Bill Rolfing said.

Laguna knocked off previously undefeated Godinez, 1-0, at Centennial Park in Santa Ana in a victory that Rolfing called "one for the ages." It came against a Grizzlies squad that was ranked No. 10 in CIF Southern Section Division 4.

Senior team captain Sarah Hewlett set up the winning score in the 70th minute. Hewlett delivered a 30-yard cross to a streaking Johana Abarca, who then planted a shot into the upper-left corner of the goal.

Sophomore keeper Kylie George had a "spectacular afternoon," Rolfing said, and finished with 10 saves. Her final stop came in the 80th minute that preserved the win.

Laguna returned to Centennial Park Monday to take on Calvary Chapel and, showed that there would be not letdown following the big win against Godinez. The Breakers, whom Rolfing said "exhibited some of their best passing" of the season, blanked the Eagles, 2-0.

"The victory was the result of team passing through the midfield with [Johana] Abarca combining with [freshmen] Chiara Noppenberger, Katelyn Carballo and Summer Stanaland," Rolfing said.

Stanaland took scoring honors for the Breakers. She netted goals in the 30th and 70th minutes.

Veteran defenders Tessa Hopper and sisters Sarah and sophomore Amy Hewlett, shut down the Calvary Chapel attack. Sophomores Janie Crawford and Audrey Pillsbury were strong on the attack with solid support coming from veteran player Emma Barker.

"The rebound that this team has experienced in the last two weeks and the last two shutout victories, has meant the world to a team that is loaded with underclassmen and graduates just two next June," Rolfing said. "This 'rebuilding year' has transformed into an exciting new era and a fine team that will be around for a while."

The CIF Southern Section girls' soccer playoff pairings will be announced Monday. Playoff games start Tuesday.


Boys' Soccer

The Breakers evened their Orange Coast League record at 3-3-3 Tuesday with a 5-2 win over Calvary Chapel at Centennial Park.

Reece Barton scored twice and Chris Tellez, Jake Hexberg and Noah Garrett scored goals for Laguna, which improved to 8-3-5 overall.

"The most important thing about this game was to get the win," Laguna Coach Dan Richards said. "It wasn't our best performance, but the boys did enough and scored [on] some well taken goals."

In a league match played Feb. 1, Laguna and Godinez played to a scoreless tie at Centennial Park.

"I was extremely proud of how the lads approached this game and competed throughout," Richards said. "Godinez is a very good team and controlled a lot of the game. The level of focus from the team and how they worked collectively in defense was a great to see.

"Although Godinez had the majority of the possession, we created some clear goal-scoring opportunities and should have done a better job converting them. The boys did a great job of following our game plan and it nearly paid off with us catching them on the break four times in the last 15 minutes, and putting ourselves in positions where we really should have scored to win the game."

Laguna was in CIF Southern Section playoff contention when it played host to Costa Mesa Thursday in the regular-season finale. The score from the match wasn't available at press time.

The CIF Southern Section boys' soccer playoff pairings will be announced Monday. Playoff games start Wednesday.


Girls' Water Polo

The Breakers closed out another perfect Orange Coast League season, the seventh-straight under Coach Ethan Damato, Wednesday by rolling to a 24-2, senior-day victory over visiting Godinez.

Laguna, the No. 6-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 1, bolted to a 9-1 lead in the first quarter, was up, 16-2, at halftime, then went on to shut out the Grizzlies in the second half.

Makenzie Fischer led the scoring with seven goals to go with two assists and four steals. Senior Lexi Del Toro contributed five goals with three assists and three steals. Senior Sydney Saxe scored four times, had eight steals and three assists, senior Mackenzi Baldridge scored twice with three assists, Haley Evans scored twice and had six steals, Brighid Burnes scored twice, and senior Kate Magnuson scored once.

Holly Parker (six) and Jenna Knott combined for nine saves.

The win completed a 4-0 league season and put the Breakers at 17-9 overall.

"It was a really fun senior day for the girls," Damato said. "We've played such an intense schedule this year and it was great to see the girls loose and having a good time. I thought they played very well."

Laguna last weekend wrapped up play at the Irvine Southern California Championships. The Breakers started the tournament Jan. 31 and scored wins against Esperanza (18-4) and Murietta Valley (No. 7 Division 2, 11-8), to advance to the quarterfinals. On Friday, the Breakers played Santa Barbara, ranked No. 1 in Division 1, tough but ended up losing, 6-4.

"We had a poor shooting night but played great defense," Damato said of the Santa Barbara game.

On the final day of the tournament Saturday, Laguna edged Agoura, the No. 1-ranked team in Division 2, 8-7, in overtime. In the fifth-place game, the Breakers fell, 11-4, to Los Alamitos (No. 5, Division 1).

The sixth-place finish gave the Breakers a top-six finish in each of the three major tournaments they entered this year. They also placed in the top six at the Newport Harbor Holiday Cup in late-December, and at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions last month.

"We didn't play well offensively against Santa Barbara and we were a bit flat against Los Al, but with that said, I think we had a great tournament," Damato said. "We were right there with the teams. I think we are playing well heading into the playoffs."

The Breakers have one more pre-postseason challenge to deal with; they play a 3:30 p.m. nonleague game Friday at El Toro. The Chargers are ranked fifth in Division 2. Damato's younger sister, Maddy, a freshman, plays on the varsity team.

"It's a friendly game between the two teams and also a great playoff tune-up game for both teams," Damato said. "The girls play club ball together. We have a chance to do some different things in this game, throw some new stuff off the wall, and see what sticks."

The CIF Southern Section girls' water polo playoff pairings will be announced Sunday. First-round games are Wednesday. As a league champion, Laguna will play host to a first-round game at either 3:30 or 4 p.m., Damato said.


CIF Southern Section Weekly Rankings

Girls' Water Polo: Laguna Beach (No. 6, Division 1).


Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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