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Boys' Water Polo: Breakers send message

October 18, 2011|By Mike Sciacca

LAGUNA BEACH – You might say the Laguna Beach High boys' water polo team made a statement Tuesday.

What made the Breakers’ statement impressive was that it was straightforward and emphatic.

The Breakers sent a message to the rest of CIF Southern Section Division III: it you want to win the 2011 division title, you'll have to go through the defending champions.

Top-ranked Laguna fended off its latest challenge Tuesday as it took control of second-ranked Damien from start to finish, and polished off the Spartans, 10-5, at the Laguna pool.

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Five days ago, the Breakers punished fourth-ranked Palos Verdes, 21-9. A week ago, they rallied to force overtime and defeated sixth-ranked La Canada, 14-11.

Laguna has not lost to a Division III team this year. Tuesday's showdown also was a rematch of last year's division title game won by the Breakers.

"I think our guys have answered the bell every time this year," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "Our guys played a great game today, especially on defense. I thought our defensive effort was outstanding. I think if we played better offense in the first half, we could have put the game away. Still, it was a real nice effort."

The Breakers (15-4) never trailed against Damien. Senior captain Nolan McConnell slung a sideways shot for the first score less than two minutes into the game. Damien came back to tie the score, 1-1, when Austin Miller scored with 1:52 left in the first quarter but then the Breakers went on a 2-0 run to close out the quarter. Another goal by McConnell and a no-look shot by Riley Thomas with one second left, gave Laguna a 3-1 lead.

The Breakers scored in two, man-up situations early in the second quarter to further take control. McConnell's scored first on a soft lob and Samer Alkateb scored from the hole, to push the lead to 5-1. A sharp pass by McConnell with 3:54 left in the half set up a score by Thomas, and the Breakers' lead suddenly grew to 6-1.

Thomas posted his second goal when he scored to beat the shot clock with under two minutes left to give Laguna a 7-2 lead at the break.

"I was really pleased with the way our guys responded after the score was tied 1-1," Damato said. "We went on a scoring run after that and I think it's a great testament to our guys who have been playing at a high level in almost every divisional game we've played."

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