Girls Water Polo now 17-1
In one of the top all-time athletic contests for Laguna Beach High School, now in their 80th season of competition, the girls’ water polo squad handed second-ranked Newport Harbor (16-4) the worst loss in their sport’s history with a 13-1 defeat Friday, Jan. 24, at the Newport pool.
Since 1998, legendary mentor and former men’s Olympic coach Bill Barnett led eight Newport teams to the Division I finals and five titles. He also won 10 titles with the Newport boys.
Laguna, playing the sport since 1998 when CIF playoffs started for girls, moved to Division I in 2011. This year Breakers entered the season 1-10 lifetime against Newport with the lone victory in a driving rainstorm at the undersize Laguna pool in 2011. But already this year, the Breakers have won two more against Newport: 11-8 on Jan. 4 in the finals of the Newport Cup and 9-5 in contest on Jan. 18 at Santa Barbara. After the two previous tournament encounters, both programs knew each squad’s capabilities well.
Laguna took the opening sprint and possession scoring in the first 30 seconds as Makenzie Fischer passed to her younger sister Aria for the initial goal. Newport tried to counter on their possession, but Holly Parker recorded the first of her eight saves with a clean block. Breakers came right back with Makenzie scoring off a Mia Salvini pass and it was 2-0 with less than 60 seconds expired.
The tempo was set and Laguna controlled the match. Newport struggled with shot accuracy and opportunities. In the first period, they took six shots, three required goalkeeper intervention, two missed the cage completely and a penalty shot bounced off the cage. Breakers made it 3-0 off a Makenzie Fischer goal off another Salvini pass during a six-on-five opportunity and Cora Borkovec fed Mia Salvini for the last goal in the period with seconds remaining.
The second period was even more grim for the Sailors as Laguna limited them to only four shots, one sailing over the cage, two including another penalty shot bouncing off the cage, and one save by Parker. Laguna continued to score as Borkovec scored and Natalie Selin added a goal midway through the period to make it 6-0. Aria Fischer added two more in the closing seconds for an 8-0 half-time lead.
Newport had only four shot attempts in the third period but did gain their lone score on a well-executed goal during an exclusion opportunity at the 4:34 mark in the period. Makenzie Fischer added two more scores to make it 10-1 entering the final stanza. The Sailors had only tried two more shots before the Breakers extended their lead to 13-1 as Newport made a frenzied effort to cut the margin in the final minutes but to no avail.
Laguna plays again on Friday, Jan. 31 when they host eighth-ranked San Marcos at the local pool in a 3:30 p.m. match.
Next week the Breakers will face Godinez (7-16) on Wednesday at Santa Ana Valley before beginning play in the 32-team Southern California Championships hosted by Irvine High School. The So Cal tournament will be played over four days with the finals at the Woollett Center adjacent to Irvine High School on Saturday, Feb. 8 at about 3 p.m. Breakers hope to complete the sweep of the in-season tournaments with a victory next Saturday. Until this year, Laguna had never won a major tournament in the sport.
SSCIF D-I Poll for Jan 27: 1 – Laguna Beach, 2 – Newport Harbor, 3 – Foothill, 4 – Corona del Mar, 5 – Samta Barbara, 6 – Los Alamitos, 7 – Edison, 8 – San Marcos, 9 – Dos Pueblos, 10 – Irvine.
Photos courtesy of Todd Miller