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Mohawked Breakers back in CIF final

November 16, 2011|By Mike Sciacca
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

IRVINE – The Laguna Beach boys' water polo team donned a new look entering the most important week of the 2011 season.

Sporting Mohawk haircuts, the cutting-edge move united the top-ranked Breakers who went out Wednesday and mowed down No. 4-seed La Canada, 14-5, in a CIF Southern Section Division III semifinal game at the William Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.

The one-sided victory allows Laguna (21-5) to reach the Division III title game for a second-straight year and the 11:45 a.m. championship match Saturday is a rematch of the 2010 division final. The Breakers will take on No. 2-seed Damien at Woollett.

Damien edged Palos Verdes, 10-8, in the first of two Division III semifinals Wednesday at Woollett.

"We are really excited to be in the final again," said Laguna Coach Ethan Damato, who last year guided the Breakers to an 11-9 win over Damien to give the program its first Southern Section championship. "It feels great. Back-to-back years ... I love it. I wouldn't ask for anyone else [than Damien] to play in the finals."

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Laguna dominated a La Canada squad (19-7) that won the Rio Hondo League championship and posted postseason wins over Santa Monica and Aliso Niguel to reach the semifinals. The Breakers led from start to finish and routed the Spartans who just last month, nearly stole a nonleague win from the Breakers at the Laguna pool.

There was no such drama Wednesday.

"It was so much different than the last time we played them," Damato said of a 14-11 overtime victory the Breakers snatched from defeat against the Spartans on Oct. 11. "It was nice to have No. 11 [Nolan McConnell] in the water for this one. He was awesome out there and our defense was lights out."

McConnell sat out the Oct. 11 game and made his presence felt from the get-go Wednesday. The senior utility player powered in the game's first goal less than one minute into the match and went on to finish with a game-high five goals. McConnell added two assists and three steals to his resume.

McConnell's offensive prowess was evident. Sharing the spotlight was a Laguna defense, and the play of senior Erik Henrikson in the cage, was nothing short of outstanding. La Canada scored two of its five goals on six-on-five advantage situations and a third score came on a five-meter penalty shot.

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