Breakers advance to final

Laguna Beach boys' water polo team defeats Mira Costa, 5-2, to reach Division 3 title match.

November 17, 2010|By Mike Sciacca

Midway through the first quarter of Wednesday's CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinal game between Laguna Beach and Mira Costa, Laguna Coach Ethan Damato shouted some stern advice at his Breakers.

"Play offense!," he screamed toward the water.

Damato had good reason to deliver such a wake-up call.

He also had good reason to settle down over the next three quarters, thanks to his defense.
Top-ranked Laguna overcame a stagnant start at the Wm. Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine to conjure up just enough offense but rode rode a dominating defensive performance to score a 5-2 victory over fifth-ranked Mira Costa.

It was the lowest outcome in victory - and points in a win - for Laguna this year.
Orange Coast League champion Laguna moves on to Saturday's division final where the Breakers will face second-ranked Damien of La Verne.


Damien defeated Palos Verdes, 11-9, in the division's first semifinal game Wednesday.
The Breakers (26-6) were making their third-straight semifinals appearance but recorded their first victory in the final four, all under Damato.

Laguna is in a division final for the first time since 1996 , "my first year of school at Laguna," Damato said, and only third time - the first appearance was in 1974 - in program history.
"You know, we lost two years in a row in the semifinals and we came out a little tentative today," Damato explained. "I was yelling because we weren't moving around on offense. We were waiting for things to happen. I even had a big talk with our guys before we started the second quarter.

"We came to life in the second quarter and never looked back. That was great to see. And our big man, Tyler (Mancuso), came ready to play today."

Tyler Mancuso scored three-straight goals in the second quarter that allowed Laguna to wipe out a 1-0 deficit. Mira Costa had taken a 1-0 lead just 36 seconds into the game on a shot by attacker Julian Monk. But from that point on, the Mustangs, the second-place team from the Bay League who finished the year 22-9, wouldn't score again on a skip shot by Trevor Tarte with Laguna in a man disadvantage with 58 seconds left to play.

To say the Laguna defense was outstanding would be an understatement.

To say that Breakers goalie Erik Henrikson turned in an absolute stellar performance in the cage, would be fitting.

Time and again, and on a few occasions where Mira Costa enjoyed a man advantage, the senior frustrated the Mustangs with big block after big block.

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