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Championship is twice as nice

Boys’ Water Polo

Laguna Beach boys' water polo program repeats as CIF Southern Section Division 3 champion after handily defeating No. 2-ranked Damien, 14-8.

November 19, 2011|By Mike Sciacca

No. 1, again.

A year after winning its first Southern Section championship, the top-ranked Laguna Beach boys' water polo team retained its top billing for a second straight year by polishing off second-ranked Damien of La Verne, 14-8, Saturday in the Division 3 title match at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine.

The Breakers were in unison in saying that they "stepped it up" in the final.

"This is awesome," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said moments after his team and coaching staff took a victory jump into the pool. "I think the pressure has been on this team all year and our guys have responded so well to every challenge. This (title) is something we've been wanting all year.

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"What really impressed me was that this entire team stepped up big when we lost two key starters. That says a lot about our guys."

Laguna, which wrapped up a 25-6 season, never trailed in a rematch of last year's division final it won, 11-9. The Breakers were challenged a few times Saturday but in each instance came up with answers to potential Spartan surges. Even more impressive, they came up with a six-goal victory after losing two of their scoring leaders to foul trouble at the start of the fourth quarter.

The Breakers were only up, 10-7, entering the final seven minutes of regulation play.

Junior attacker, Riley Thomas, the team's second-leading scorer, drew his third foul after he incurred an exclusion at the end of the third quarter. Two minutes into the fourth quarter, Camron Hauer, another junior attacker and the team's third-leading scorer, was whistled for his third and final foul with six minutes left in regulation.

The Breakers, however, went out and scored the first four goals of the final quarter, then turned to its stingy defense to pull away. They held a 14-7 lead with under three minutes to play and had the game in control at that point. They then waited out the shot clock on their final three possessions and both teams cleared their benches with 1:22 remaining.

When the substitutions began, the strong Laguna contingent in attendance went wild with applause as the Breakers exited the water.

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