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Boys' Water Polo: Breakers' rally falls short in semifinals

Laguna Beach comes back from 5-1 deficit, but can't complete comeback against Agoura.

November 20, 2013|By Mike Sciacca
(Don Leach / Coastline…)

IRVINE — At the halfway point of Wednesday's CIF Southern Section boys' water polo Division 2 semifinal game, Laguna Beach Coach Ethan Damato presented his team with a challenge.

The Breakers weren't their offensive selves in the opening half against Agoura at William Woollett Aquatic Center, and their lack of scoring, combined with stout defensive pressure applied by the Chargers, resulted in a 5-2 halftime deficit.

"I thought we didn't play as well as we could have, and we were stagnant on offense," Damato said. "We challenged our guys at halftime, and I thought they really responded. We went out in the second half and instead of waiting for things to open up on the offensive end, we made things happen."

Laguna scored the first two goals of the second half to pull within a goal of catching Agoura, and the Breakers also got to within a single goal late in the game, but the top-ranked Chargers were able to fend off both second-half rallies to emerge with an 8-6 victory.

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What did the second-half effort tell Damato about his team?

"What I already knew. They are tough-minded, scrappy guys who never give up," he said. "They came out and played really well in the second half and got back in the game."

Agoura, which is the division's reigning champion, will go after a repeat title at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Woollett Aquatic Center. The Marmonte League champions will face fifth-ranked Foothill which defeated No. 2-seed Murrieta Valley, 9-8, in Wednesday's first division semifinal.

Agoura also will be shooting for a fourth-consecutive Southern Section championship: the Chargers won back-to-back Division 4 crowns in 2010-11.

Orange Coast League champion Laguna had its season end at 19-12. The Breakers also reached the semifinal round last year in their first year in the division.

Laguna was in the semifinal round of the playoffs for the sixth time in Damato's six years as head coach. The Breakers won consecutive Division 3 championships in 2010-11.

They were a step away from contending for another title.

"They are a really good defensive team and they played great defense in that first half," Damato said of Agoura. "I thought we played real well after the second quarter."

Laguna scored the first goal of the game but Agoura posted the next five goals to take a 5-1 advantage. The Breakers came out after the break to close to within 5-4 midway through the third quarter.

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