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Coming home, at last

January 14, 2005

Mike Sciacca

So much for the saying, "Home Sweet Home."

The 2004-05 prep girls' water polo season is already seven weeks

underway, and for the Laguna Beach High girls' water polo, it's a

season that, thus far, has had them play 13 matches.

Each on the road.

Some far from home.

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The road, though, might have the Breakers seasoned for a strong

finish to the regular season.

Such is the hope of Laguna coach Rick McKee, whose squad finally

plays a home match today by hosting Tustin in nonleague play.

Match time is 3:45 p.m.

"Yes, it will be nice to play a match at home," McKee said. "It's

a strange scheduling quirk this year, but the girls have really

adapted well to playing on the road.

"I think by playing in different environments during nonleague

play, it has really caused these girls to really come together as a

team."

Laguna was 9-4, overall, heading into play this week.

The Breakers opened Pacific Coast League play Wednesday at

Northwood, and visited El Dorado Thursday for a nonleague match.

Late last week, Laguna was up in Santa Barbara to compete at the

top-notch Tournament of Champions.

The Breakers were seeded ninth in the 16-team tournament, and

posted an overall record of 2-2, alternating wins and losses.

They opened the event by defeating a very strong Montebello team,

10-9, then lost to the host school, Santa Barbara, 11-6.

They bounced back to handle Villa Park, 11-6, but fell to league

rival Corona del Mar, 11-8, in the tournament's fifth-place game.

Montebello is ranked fifth in CIF-Southern Section Division I,

Corona del Mar and Santa Barbara are ranked No. 1 in Division II and

Division IV, respectively, and Villa Park is ranked third in Division

II.

Laguna is rated second in Division II.

"The girls gave a great performance in Santa Barbara," McKee said.

"Montebello was seeded sixth in the tournament, and the girls really

played them very tough. Montebello's a very physical team, so I was

very proud of the way our girls played.

"We also played Santa Barbara tough, and had a nice comeback

against Corona del Mar."

Laguna held a 5-4 advantage on Santa Barbara, before the Dons went

on ta 7-0 run to take command in an eventual 11-6 win.

Corona del Mar had bolted to a 10-3 lead on the Breakers in the

fifth-place match, when McKee posed a challenging question to his

players.

"I asked them if they wanted to finish the game, to fight, and

they said, 'yes,' that they wanted to fight. They did."

Laguna rallied to pull to within two of the Sea Kings, before

falling, 11-8.

"The girls' character is huge right now," he said. "They have such

a strong resolve. With every match, they are improving. What's great

is that they haven't played at their potential yet."

Laguna will get a Feb. 9 rematch with Corona del Mar -- the final

day of league play.

In fact, beginning today, the Breakers will play seven of their

final regular season matches at home, including the finale with the

Sea Kings.

"We get to finish the better part of the season at home," McKee

said. "That definitely will benefit us."

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