It gets tougher from here

Breakers dismantle Estancia in league opener, but they'll face much stiffer competition in prestigious Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

January 13, 2011|By Mike Sciacca,

Before it could start thinking about a big three-day swing ahead, the Laguna Beach girls' water polo team had the opening of the 2011 Orange Coast League schedule to contend with Wednesday..

The Breakers, odds-on favorites to win yet another league championship, had to first focus on Estancia before entertaining any thoughts of playing mighty Dos Pueblos or competing at the two-day Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

After scoring a 25-2 win over the host Eagles, the Breakers, ranked fifth in CIF Division 1, were able to set their course north, where several days of stiff competition awaited.


"It is tough to go from a game like this (Estancia) to playing Dos Pueblos, who I think is the best team in the nation and definitely the best team in Southern California," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "But I thought the girls did a good job against Estancia and were able to work on a lot of things."

As the score would indicate, Laguna dominated Wednesday's league opener. The Breakers led, 9-0, after one quarter and, 14-0, at the half. They didn't give up a goal until the fourth quarter.

"Our goal was to try to get everything we could out of the game," Damato said. "We slowed our fast break down early and we spent a lot of time executing things. We also brought some JV players up and it was great to be able to give some of the less-experienced players some playing time."

Nine Breakers broke into the scoring column, led by Melena Masson and Mackenzie Baldridge who each scored five goals. Jessie Holechek and Sydney Saxe both scored four times and Yoshi Andersen and Lexie del Toro both scored twice. Single goals were scored by Lida DeGroote, Marley Donnenfeld and Anya Miller, the latter two who were brought up for the JV team for the game.

Masson and Holechek had two assists each. Masson also led the team with three steals. Jenna Knott had six saves.

Laguna took on Dos Pueblos, the top-ranked team in Division 1, Thursday (the score wasn't available by press time). The undefeated Chargers haven't lost a game since late in the 2009 season.

The teams possibly could meet again Saturday at the Tournament of Champions.

The Breakers begin play today at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions. The 16-team event is being played at both the Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos pools. The teams are split into groups of four in four pool play brackets. The Breakers are the top seed in Pool C, which also includes Santa Barbara, Vista (CIF San Diego Section) and Edison.

The Breakers take on Edison, ranked eighth in Division 1, at 2:30 p.m. today. Laguna defeated the Chargers, 11-10, in a nonleague game Dec. 14.

Laguna also has defeated Santa Barbara, beating the Dons, 5-4, two weeks ago.

"This tournament is absolutely stacked," he said. "The top 16 teams in Southern California, all the way down to San Diego, are in this event every year. It's a really, really tough tournament and it's a grind with so many big games in two days.

"We open against a tough Edison team and we could face Santa Barbara in the semifinals. We beat them in the quarterfinals at the Holiday Cup over the break and they'll be looking for revenge against us. This is a great opportunity for us to get another top-four finish in a tournament."

Laguna has finished fifth the last two years at the Tournament of Champions, the best finishes by a Laguna team at the event, Damato said.

Following the tournament, Laguna won't play again until Jan. 21 at Foothill.

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