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Laguna has eyes on repeat

BOYS’ WATER POLO PREVIEW

Breakers return six players from last year's CIF Division 3 championship squad and should be buyoed by addition of transfer standout Riley Thomas.

August 18, 2011|By Mike Sciacca, michael.sciacca@latimes.com
  • Laguna Beach's Nolan McConnell reacts after scoring a goal against Mira Costa during the CIF playoffs. McConnell eventually led the Breakers to a CIF Southern Section Division 3 championship and earned Player of the Year honors.
Laguna Beach's Nolan McConnell reacts after scoring… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Last November, the Laguna Beach High boys' water polo program reached new heights by winning the CIF Southern Section Division 3 championship.

This fall, the Breakers figure to be strong contenders for another.

Laguna returns six players from last year's team that culminated a 26-7 season with a victory over Damien in the CIF Division 3 title game. Among the returnees is senior Nolan McConnell, who last year was Most Valuable Player of the Orange Coast League and CIF Division 3.

Other key returners are seniors Erik Henrikson, Nicky Brunner and Samer Alkateb and juniors Camron Hauer and Tommy Renner.

McConnell and Henrikson both are about to start their fourth year on varsity.

In addition to last year's returning standouts, the Breakers also received good news when Junior Riley Thomas, an all-league selection at Woodbridge High last season, transferred into the program.

"We are very excited about what Riley can bring to our team," Damato said. "He is an explosive attacker with a great outside shot and an uncanny abulity to score from anywhere in the pool. During the summer, he was our leading scorer and at times our best player. He has fit in well with the rest of the team and will no doubt help us compete for another CIF Championship."

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The missing pieces from last year's team are attackers Spencer Dodson and Jack Clark and center Tyler Mancusso. Dodson, a 2010 co-captain and first-team All-CIF, is now at UC Irvine. Clark, another co-captain who also made All-CIF, is at MIT and Mancusso, a second-team All-CIF selection last year, is at Iona College.

"This year we return a lot of experienced players from last year's CIF championship team, and as a group we have very high expectations for the season," Laguna Beach Coach Ethan Damato said. "I think we have the potential to be a top Orange County team and a contender for a CIF Championship."

Laguna opens practice for the fall season Monday. The Breakers' first regular-season game is Sept. 9 (4 p.m.) at home against Villa Park. A rematch of the 2010 Division 3 title game has Damien visiting Laguna on Oct. 18.

2011 Laguna Beach boys' water polo

Head coach: Ethan Damato (fifth year)

Coaching staff: Trevor Lyle, Trevor Frimond, Mary Cousineau

2010 record: 26-7

2010 league finish: 5-0 (first)

2010 CIF results: Won CIF Division 3 championship.

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