Prep notebook: Laguna Beach girls’ water polo unmatched in depth

The 11 players off the Laguna Beach girls'water polo team who have signed with colleges.
Eleven players of the Laguna Beach girls’ water polo team have signed with colleges. Bottom row, left to right: Rachael Carver, Molly Renner, Jessie Rose, Emma Singer. Middle row: Emma Lineback, Nicole Struss, Imani Clemons, Skylar Kidd. Back row: Mikayla Lopez, Kenedy Corlett, Ella Baumgarten.
(Laguna Beach High School)

When it comes to super teams, few can top the Laguna Beach girls’ water polo team. The Breakers have won consecutive Southern Section Division 1 championships and 11 players have signed with colleges.

“It’s definitely the deepest class of girls we’ve ever had and one of the best teams for sure,” coach Ethan Damato said. “I’m very proud they have bright futures at the next level.”

Due to the season’s late start beause of coronavirus restrictions, Laguna Beach might play as few as eight matches before the season ends on March 20 with no playoffs.

“It’s unfortunate,” Damato said. “I don’t think we’re any more hurt than any other school.”

The players moving on to college include UCLA signees Molly Renner, Emma Lineback and Nicole Struss as well as Rachael Carver (Princeton), Jessie Rose (Cal), Emma Singer (Cal), Imani Clemons (UCSB), Skylar Kidd (Indiana), Mikayla Lopez (LMU), Kenedy Corlett (UCSB) and Ella Baumgarten (Marist).


Quarantine: Arcadia’s football team has canceled its opening game against Muir on March 19 after having to go into a 10-day quarantine when a player tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday. The good news is that the school’s safety protocols worked. The school was transparent, answered questions of media and scheduled a parent meeting for next week. Arcadia’s athletic trainers have been monitoring players daily.

Also canceling its opening game is Crescenta Valley, which had a positive test and won’t be able to play Burbank Burroughs on March 19.

Manhattan Beach tales: It’s well known that Los Angeles Loyola, a private all-boys school in downtown Los Angeles, has lots of students who live in Manhattan Beach. So when the Cubs play Mira Costa in any sports, it’s like a battle among neighborhood kids.

The two schools got together Friday and Saturday to play consecutive water polo matches at Mira Costa. Then everyone probably enjoyed having dinner together to discuss beach news at one of the city’s many restaurants serving outdoors. Loyola won 11-10 on Friday night.

Aquatics center debut: Encino Crespi finally got a chance to hold an official sporting event in its $10-million aquatics center that opened last October with a water polo game. Jack Wilson of La Canada St. Francis scored the first goal in the pool in a match against Crespi. Milo Joseph scored the first goal for the Celts.

“It was 63 years in the making and 40 years people calling for a pool,” Crespi President Ken Foersch said. “To wait five months to get in there, I’m excited for the kids.”

St. Francis won over Crespi 19-17.

Issues with officials: With so many sports taking place in the same season, there’s growing pressure on making sure there are enough officials. The Citrus Belt Area in the Inland Empire held a lottery to decide days and times to hold football games and the ones that lost are playing on Saturdays at 10 a.m.


Kirk West, the assigner in the San Fernando Valley unit, said a number of football officials and baseball/softball umpires have chosen not to work this spring for safety concerns. West himself must sit out because he had COVID-19 and is still recovering from lung issues.

Declining to play: L.A. University has decided not to play football during the spring season. Coach John Washington made the announcement in a Twitter message, saying, “in good conscience and my commitment to young people, we decline to put them at risk.”