By Frank Aronoff | LB Indy
Boys Water Polo (25-6, 5-0) SS CIF D-3 CHAMPIONS
Breakers kept the pressure on for nearly the full 28 minutes to defeat the perennial Division 3 power Montebello 12-8 in the Southern Section CIF title match before a rowdy overflow crowd at Irvine’s Woollett Center Saturday, Nov. 22.
The Oilers were making their eighth finals appearance since 2003 and the Breakers were in their fifth appearance since the program began in 1964. Montebello (24-4) were every bit a championship caliber squad.
Coach Ethan Damato (Laguna ’00) completing his seventh season at the helm was not surprised they were facing the Oilers. The two squads had met only twice in the playoffs, both semifinal Montebello victories – 10-6 in 2008 and 10-5 in 2009.
The match began with Cade Baldridge winning the first of the four match sprints to open the initial quarter with a Laguna possession. The Oilers then took possession off a steal and had their resulting shot bounce off the cage in what would be a familiar outcome. Laguna then got the initial scores with just under a minute gone as Aki Anderson fed Cade Baldridge for the quick shot and score putting the Breakers up 1-0.
The teams continued to trade possessions with blocked shots terminating most possessions until Jack Dobson scored on a Laguna power play at the three-minute mark to push the lead to 2-0. It was less than a minute later that Sal Orozco was left unguarded deep in Laguna territory and took a long pass for an uncontested goal to re-charge the Oilers. Conner Hauer responded immediately with a goal but back came the Oilers to score just before the period ended.
Aki Anderson opened the second period scoring with a lob shot at the 4:50 mark to make it 4-2 but the Oilers bounced right back to score twice at 4:26 and 2:56 at tie the match at 4. It took only 15 seconds for the Breakers to resume the lead for the final time as Hauer found Baldridge open with a sharp pass and the Breaker’s top scorer (97 goals) made it 5-4. Montebello added the next score for Laguna in a defensive swipe at a ball that caught their keeper off guard resulting in a Laguna point. Breakers added an insurance score on their next and final possession of the half as Nolan Del Toro fed Aki Anderson for another score and it was 7-4 at the intermission.
Nothing seemed to go Montebello’s way in the third period as Anderson and Jackob Colladay scored early to extend Laguna to a 9-4 lead. Montebello finally scored on a successful skip-shot by Mark Naranio at the 3:40 mark but Trent Sadler added another score to make it 10-5 late in the period. The Oilers were awarded a penalty shot near the end of the quarter but missed the cage on their one attempt for the evening.
Early in the final period the two teams traded goals quickly with Montebello scoring at 6:19 followed by Jack Dodson scoring on a power play with a lob shot. Joseph Oieda added another Oiler score on a skip shot and the teams continued to trade shots until Dobson added his final goal at the 2:50 mark off a pass by Aki Anderson.
Breakers held off easily adding to their totals late in the game but Montebello scored in the closing seconds to cut the final margin to four.
Everyone was disappointed the CIF staff cut the awards ceremony and hurried the crowd out of the venue giving little time for the parents, players, and fans to enjoy the moment.
Breakers will lose six key field players next season returning only Jackob Colliday and Sebastian Jacobs that were part of the regular rotation. The Laguna JV went 19-3 this past season going 2-2 against varsity teams and losing 10-6 to Mater Dei’s JV so the squad will have talent to compete for the section title.
Coach Damato is now 156-63 with the boys at Laguna, 20-4 in the playoffs (three titles) and a perfect 33-0 in conference play. He will be right back to the pool next week as Laguna girls open the defense of their D-1 title when their season starts on Dec. 5.
WINTER SPORTS- UP NEXT
The next sports season begins
Boys Basketball at the Godinez Invitational Dec 1-6. Open with Anaheim on 12-1, 4:45PM
Girls Basketball at CdM Tournament Dec 1-6
Boys Soccer @ El Dorado, Mon Dec 1
Girls Soccer Tustin – November 25 @ Guyer Field 5PM
Girls Water Polo Rosary – Fri Dec 5 @ Laguna Community Pool, 4:15 PM