Laguna, still top-ranked in Orange County, snapped out of their depression with a four goal second quarter on their way to defeat fifth-ranked Los Alamitos 7-3 this past Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Santiago Canyon College. After a scoreless first quarter, Nicole Struss scored on the first possession of the second quarter off a pass from Isabel Riches. A minute later it was Sophia Lucas scoring off a Molly Renner pass and it was 2-0.
Griffith star Baylee Weber scored on a scramble for a blocked shot to close the gap to 2-1, but Struss scored again off a Lucas pass to make it 3-1. That was followed by a shot by Alex Peros for a 4-1 halftime lead. Thea Walsh was on in the cage with 12 saves including a five-meter penalty shot and some point blank attempts by the host school. Overall in scoring, Struss had three goals, Sophia Lucas had two and Alex Peros one score. Evan Tingler supplied three assists and Isabel Riches two, while Peros led in steals with three.
Breakers (22-4) were to face fourth-ranked Corona del Mar on Thursday, Feb. 23 for the fifth place Southern Section CIF Division 1 game at a site to be determined by Laguna. The Sea Queens held off Orange Lutheran 10-9 in double overtime to advance to this contest.
Last week, San Marcos fired a half-court lob shot with one second remaining to shock the Breakers out of the Division 1 championship round with an 8-7 double overtime victory over the defending champions Thursday, Feb. 15 at Newport Harbor.
Of the seven losses in the last five years (130-7), this was the most disappointing as the squad hesitated on their passes, did not execute as they usually do on their power play opportunities nor did they fire any quick passes to the numerous two-meter chances.
Breakers never trailed until 4:37 in the second period when the Royals took a 3-2 lead and held on for a 4-3 half-time advantage. Momentum came back to the Breakers in the third period as Sophia Lucas scored off a great pass by Alex Peros to tie the game. In the closing seconds of the period, Isabel Riches scored off a toss by Nicole Struss for Laguna’s last lead at 5-4.
Laguna had plenty of chances in the final period to put the game away but went scoreless on their initial seven possessions of the quarter. San Marcos tied the game on an outside shot with 1:12 remaining with neither team getting off a good try in the closing possessions. In the two three-minute overtime periods, San Marcos was sky-high in the first, scoring twice at 2:06 and again at 1:11 to take a two-goal advantage. The Laguna comeback almost forced a sudden-death overtime as Alex Peros scored with 56 seconds remaining off a Sophia Lucas pass. Then 40-seconds later Lucas drew a five-meter penalty shot that Evan Tingler converted to tie the score. That seemed to spark the Breakers for the expected sudden death period until the deflating toss just seconds later.
Next Friday, March 2, Laguna will participate in the inaugural Southern California State Regional Tournament with most games scheduled for Corona del Mar’s pool both Friday and Saturday. Unlike most high school water polo matches, admission will be charged at the state tournament.