For the second year, Laguna Beach High’s girls’ water polo squad lost in overtime at the Division I semifinals on Wednesday. It took a hot Newport Harbor squad (26-4) on a 15-game win streak to stop the Breakers (23-7) while last year undefeated Dos Pueblos pulled out the win.
Four of Laguna’s losses have come at the hands of Newport Harbor’s Tars, with three of the matches going into OT.
Newport scored first but Laguna also scored in the first period on a shot by Mackenzie Baldridge and took the lead on a buzzer shot by Yoshi Anderson from the mid pool area.
Melena Masson made it 3-1 Laguna midway in the second period but the Tars quickly countered with a score of their own. Makenzie Fischer scored inside the final minute off a Baldridge pass to extend the lead to 4-2, but a flurry of Newport shot attempts at the buzzer netted a score as the first half ended.
Newport pulled out two scores in the third period as Laguna shot opportunities were fewer and fewer. The regulation match was tied midway in the fourth period at 5-5 as Masson drew a penalty shot converted by Anderson.
Newport scored midway in the first of the two mandatory three-minute overtime periods. They made it 7-5 on a second OT period lob shot. After the ensuing Anderson shot was blocked, Newport lost possession giving Fischer a clean score to cut the lead to 7-6 with 53 seconds left. Breakers were unable to gain possession after that as Newport was able to run out the clock.
Breaker keeper Jenna Knott had 10 saves while her Newport counterpart was credited with 17 stops.
Earlier, the team used strong defense in the final minutes to hold off a surging Santa Barbara Don squad and
pull out an 11-10 victory in the Division 1 CIF quarterfinal Saturday, Feb. 18. Masson was key to the effort at the local pool, frustrating the Don’s attack in the final minute.
Breakers (23-6) had lost to Santa Barbara twice this season but seemed in control from the beginning. Fischer’s two quick goals gave Laguna a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. Twice Laguna built three-goal leads but could not completely shake the Dons (21-8).
Fans got nervous as Santa Barbara scored twice in the last 90 seconds of the third period to cut Laguna’s lead to 8-7 then opened the fourth period with another goal to tie the contest. Anderson scored off a Masson assist at 4:02 in the fourth to make it 9-8 Laguna, but two strong possessions by the Dons gave them their only lead at 10-9 with 1:31 remaining.
Masson took the ensuing possession and scored at the 1:18 mark. Then the Breaker defense regained possession into the final minute. Sydney Saxe shot what appeared to be the winning goal but it took a surge of the pool wake to send the ball firmly across the goal line for the score. The Dons tried a final play to win but caught the ball up trying to get into position to score. Breakers ran the clock out to the jubilation of their packed house. Dons still lead the all-time series 8-7.
The best scoring play of Saturday’s match was the water polo version of the “ally oop” as Lexie Del Toro took a sideline pass from Anderson and tipped the ball past the Don keeper at the 2:56 mark of the second period for one of Laguna’s three-goal leads. Harvard-bound Anderson scored five goals to up her season total to a squad leading 104. Damato is now 98-28 in four seasons as head coach at Laguna.