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Ready for another run

Laguna Beach boys' water polo program again has high expectations for 2010.

August 19, 2010|By Mike Sciacca, michael.sciacca@latimes.com

They keep on reloading.

You would think that the loss of four players to graduation, three of whom were named All-CIF last fall, would leave a major void in any water polo program. In the case of the Laguna Beach Breakers, a program that continually is among the best in the CIF Southern Section, the loss of such players is tempered by the return of several outstanding players and an infusion of up-and-coming talent.

"We have a great group of kids in and out of the water," said Ethan Damato, who begins his third year as head coach. "They train very hard as a group, they play hard in every game and they expect to win. I think their expectations for themselves are very high this year. It's fun to coach a group like that."

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Last year, Laguna won its fourth straight Orange Coast League championship and reached the semifinals of the CIF playoffs, where they were eliminated by Montebello.

The Breakers, who begin practice Monday for the 2010 season, welcome back seven players to the varsity roster, four of whom started. Of those four, junior utility Nolan McConnell was the team's and Orange Coast League Most Valuable Player in 2009 and first-team All-CIF, and senior attacker Spencer Dodson was the league's offensive player of the year and second-team All-CIF. Junior goalie Erik Henrickson, a first-team all-league pick a year ago, returns to man the net for a third straight year and senior utility Jack Clark was second-team all-league.

Dodson and Clark will serve as team captains.

Another key varsity returner is junior attacker Nicky Brunner, who played a lot last year as sophomore and will start this fall, Damato said. Brunner, who was second-team all-league last year, was one of the team's leading scorers during summer play. Senior center Tyler Mancusso, who had a successful summer season, and sophomore attacker Carmon Hauer, whom Damato said was a "very creative player," also return to the varsity roster.

Newcomers to the varsity are junior Samer Alkateb, who at 6-foot-3, gives the Breakers a big presence at two-meters, and junior Tommy Renner, a fast defender who was the MVP at the JV and frosh/soph levels last year.

"A great thing about this group of guys is that many of them have been playing together since they were 8 or 9 years old," Damato said. "They have great chemistry in and out of the water.

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