Laguna (18-7) gained much needed momentum for the upcoming Division I playoffs last weekend in the prestigious Southern California Championships. Ranked seventh in last week’s Southern Section CIF D-I poll, the Breakers played possibly the best polo of the team’s 14 seasons at Laguna Beach High School, finishing second in the 32-team invitational that featured the section’s top seven teams.
Laguna opened the tournament on Thursday, Feb. 3 blasting San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic 13-4 behind a balance attack with Yoshi Anderson scoring three goals and Alia Manetta, Riley Duncan, Jessie Holechek, and Sydney Saxe adding two goals each. Etianne Manetta recorded eight saves.
In the nightcap, Breakers hammered host Santa Margarita 13-4 fully dominating the Eagles behind Anderson’s four goals and Holechek’s four scores. Manetta was dominating in the cage with 12 saves and five steals.
On Friday, Breakers became the first Orange County team this season to defeat Los Alamitos (23-3) with a stunning 8-7 sudden-death victory over the Griffins at Irvine’s Woollett Center. Jesse Holechek scored on sweep shot in overtime to win the game for Laguna. The score was her fourth goal in the contest. Breakers controlled the tempo with tough defense by Melina Masson and Jessica Shusko. Manetta had eight saves and four steals. The team effort sent Laguna to the Saturday semifinals against D-1 No. 3 ranked Santa Barbara.
The Saturday late morning match with the Dons was all Laguna after Santa Barbara (18-7) briefly led 2-1 in the closing seconds of the first period. Laguna responded with two quick goals by Masson and Holechek in the first minutes of the second quarter and controlled the tempo after that. Holechek added a penalty shot score to close out the first half. Riley Duncan scored in the third period’s first minutes. Laguna led 11-5 with two minutes remaining, clearing the bench to give the starters a much needed rest. The all-time series is now deadlocked at 6-6.
Breakers tried to stop Dos Pueblos and their 60-match win streak in the championship match, leading 3-1 in the first period but ran out of gas losing 13-6 to the two-time defending CIF champion Chargers. Melina Masson and Jessie Holechek were named to the all-tournament squad. Stanford-bound Kiley Neushul from Dos Pueblos was the tournament MVP. Final top eight standings: 1 – Dos Pueblos, 2 – Laguna, 3 – Newport Harbor, 4 – Santa Barbara, 5 – Los Alamitos, 6 – Corona del Mar, 7 – Vista (San Diego), 8 – Foothill
Playoff seedings will be announced this Sunday, Feb. 13 at 11 a.m. on www.cifss.org.