By Erich Fischer, Special to the Independent
Laguna Beach’s 14-and-under girls’ water polo team surprised the competition by defeating a heavily favored Santa Barbara squad 5-4 in an intense gold medal game this past weekend.
Despite losing six of seven starters from last season’s squad, the youthful and spirited girls kept pace. By the half, Laguna held a one point advantage and kept a narrow lead until Santa Barbara tied the game with a goal out of center with 40 seconds left. Laguna quickly struck back with a goal from the outside after a time out to go up by one and held off a last-second attempt by Santa Barbara to claim the championship.
“Nobody expected this team would make it to the finals of this tournament let alone take out the No. 1 team in the nation to win it!” said Chad Beeler, club director of Laguna Beach Water Polo Club.
Laguna started the tournament with a 13 to 2 win over Santa Barbara Bronze, defeated Foothill in a thrilling 13-12 shootout victory and beat Huntington Beach 15-5. On the final day of the competition, Laguna earned a resounding 13-4 semifinal victory against Rosebowl and then beat Santa Barbara’s top squad in the championship game.
Erich Fischer coaches the 14 and under girls polo team.