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United Breakers reach final

Boys’ Water Polo

Boys' water polo team, sporting playoff mohawks, mows down La CaƱada in semifinals as it bids for repeat CIF crown.

November 17, 2011|By Mike Sciacca
  • Laguna Beach's Nolan McConnell scored a match-high five goals against La Cañada on Wednesday, leading the Breakers to a semifinal victory at the William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.
Laguna Beach's Nolan McConnell scored a match-high… (KEVIN CHANG, Coastline…)

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

Sporting mohawks, the cutting-edge move united the top-ranked Breakers, who went out Wednesday and mowed down No. 4-seed La Cañada, 14-5, in a CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinal game at the William Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.

The one-sided victory allows Laguna (21-5) to reach the Division 3 title game for a second straight year. The 11:45 a.m. championship match Saturday is a rematch of the 2010 division final, as the Breakers take on No. 2-seed Damien at the William Woollett Aquatics Center.

Damien edged Palos Verdes, 10-8, in the first of two Division 3 semifinals Wednesday.

"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 (Damien) to play in the finals."

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Laguna dominated a La Cañada 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 scored a nonleague win over 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 but made his presence felt from the get-go Wednesday. The senior utility player powered in the game's first goal less than a minute into the match and went on to finish with a game-high five goals. McConnell added two assists and three steals.

McConnell's offensive prowess was evident throughout the match. Sharing the spotlight was a Laguna defense, led by senior Erik Henrikson's 17 saves in the cage, that was nothing short of outstanding. La Canada scored two of its five goals on six-on-five advantages and a third score came on a five-meter penalty shot.

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