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Breakers are eyeing a three-peat

Boys’ Water Polo Preview

Laguna Beach has won the last two CIF Southern Section Division 3 titles, but if it wants another crown this year, it'll have to win it in Division 2.

August 23, 2012|By Mike Sciacca
  • Riley Thomas was second on the team in scoring and earned All-CIF honors a season ago for Laguna Beach.
Riley Thomas was second on the team in scoring and earned… (STEVEN GEORGES,…)

For the past two years, the Laguna Beach High boys' water polo program has enjoyed life at the top. Winning Orange Coast League championships with ease and claiming back-to-back CIF Southern Section titles had been the program's MO.

The expectations for the 2012 Breakers are no different, despite moving up a division in CIF.

Ethan Damato, in his fifth year as head coach of the program, welcomes back six returning players from last year's title-winning squad. He rounds out this year's unit with five varsity newcomers, four of whom are sophomores.

Two of his returning players — seniors Camron Hauer, a four-year varsity player and the team's third leading scorer last year, and Riley Thomas, the Breakers' second-leading scorer in 2011 — were all-league and All-CIF a year ago. Two other returners, senior Caleb Scott and sophomore Jack Dodson, were second-team all-league selections.

There are major voids for Damato to fill. Gone to graduation are Nolan McConnell, the leading scorer in the program for the past four years and a two-time CIF Player of the Year in Division 3; Erik Henrikson, a captain and two-time All-CIF player who started in the goal the past four years; Samer Alkateb and Nicky Brunner, both two-time All-CIF players; and Tommy Renner, another team captain who was All-CIF.

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"We lost a lot of guys who were a big part of our team for a long time," Damato said. "Some of them [were] four-year varsity starters. There are some big holes to fill, but I think we have a lot of guys here excited about creating their own identity in 2012. We are working hard and have a deep group of guys [who] we are really excited about it.

"This year's team has the ability to be a great team, a team that can beat you from a lot places. I think they have a chip on their shoulders and feel like they have something to prove. I agree with them, and I like the edge."

After spending the past two years — and winning consecutive titles — in Division 3, the Breakers move up this year to Division 2.

"We are really excited as a program for the challenge," Damato said of the division change. "It will be an extremely competitive division with seven or eight teams that could beat each other on any given day. It should make for a fun year."

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The Team

League: Orange Coast

CIF Division: Division 2

Head coach: Ethan Damato (fifth year)

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