Girls' Water Polo: Breakers dominate Sailors

Laguna Beach High girls' water polo coach Ethan Damato is well aware of the numbers.

In his first several years as head or assistant coach of the Breakers, the girls had beaten Newport Harbor just one time. It hurt to Damato, a Laguna Beach alumnus who was a two-time All-CIF player in 1999 and 2000.

"We're tired of losing to Newport," Damato said. "That is a fact, for sure. We talked about it this year with this group of girls; we don't want to lose to the CdMs and Newports anymore. I'm not saying that we never will, but we don't want to. We're tired of that."

Laguna Beach really does not look like it will be losing to anyone the rest of the season.

The Breakers, the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 1, did more than just beat the No. 2 Sailors for the third time this season on Friday afternoon.

It was the way they won the nonleague game and also the final score, 13-1, at the Newport pool. It is the most lopsided loss in Newport Harbor program history.

Laguna junior Makenzie Fischer and her sister Aria, a freshman, each scored four goals as the Breakers (17-1) dominated the Sailors (13-4) in all aspects. Earlier this month the Breakers won both the Holiday Cup and Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions for the first time in program history, defeating Newport in the title match both times.

On Friday, Laguna was simply too strong. When the teams met a week ago in the TOC title game, the Breakers jumped on the Sailors, 6-0, at halftime before Newport cut the lead to three late in the third quarter. This time, the Breakers zoomed to an 8-0 advantage at half but kept their foot on the gas pedal.

"I thought we played well everywhere," Damato said. "I don't think there was an area where we did a bad job, and in every quarter. We had a great first half against them in Santa Barbara, and I thought we could have played better in the second half. Today was four quarters of really good polo ... we did everything we were trying to do. We did a nice job of making it tough for them to defend us."

Aria Fischer scored all of her four goals from center and drew an exclusion and five-meter penalty shot. Makenzie Fischer added four assists, three steals and drew three exclusions herself.

Makenzie knows what it's like to lose to Newport Harbor. Her freshman year, Laguna lost to Newport Harbor four times. Included in that tally were three overtime games, including a 7-6 Division 1 semifinal match that the Sailors won on their way to the CIF title.

Last year, Newport Harbor was 2-0 against Laguna. The Sailors again knocked the Breakers out of CIF in overtime, 11-10 in the quarterfinals despite six goals from Fischer.

"It's really exciting," Makenzie Fischer said of the results against the Sailors this year. "And fun, of course ... This is definitely our most complete game of the year. I think we played really well. [Aria] killed it. I think we did a good job of isolating her and getting her the ball."

Sophomore Mia Salvini scored twice for the Breakers, while USC-bound senior Cara Borkovec (three steals), junior Brighid Burnes (two field blocks) and sophomore Natalie Selin also scored. Sophomore keeper Holly Parker made nine saves for Laguna, which is still missing freshman attacker Bella Baldridge (concussion) and senior goalie Jenna Knott (hyperextended elbow).

Senior Heidi Fults scored the Sailors' lone goal, a six-on-five lob early in the third quarter. Fults, one of several Sailors who missed practice time due to sickness this week, also had two steals and drew three exclusions and a penalty shot.

Junior defender Rachel Whitelegge had three steals for the Sailors, while goalies Cleo Harrington and Carlee Kapana combined for nine saves. Seniors Maddie Goodell and Sydney Kohlenberger, as well as juniors Isabel Leveque and Chanel Schilling, added one steal each.

The Sailors converted just one of five power-play opportunities, missed one penalty shot off the crossbar and had another blocked by Parker.

"They're an awesome team," Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett said of the Breakers. "Every time we threw the ball away, they shoved it down our throats, and we just threw the ball away way too many times. And our defense was terrible."

Newport Harbor will not have time to fret over its loss. The Sailors play host to Santa Margarita, the defending Division 2 champion, on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Eagles are again top-ranked in Division 2 this year.

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