For the third time in the past four summers, the Laguna Beach High School girls water polo team captured the annual California State Championship, held July 14-16 at Corona del Mar and OC area high schools. The girls event featured 44 varsity teams and Laguna’s JV team. The contest provides the only North-South competition statewide in girls water polo as the sport is played in winter by schools in the CIF’s Southern Section, Los Angeles and San Diego, while the other seven sections in California compete in the fall.
Matt Tingler coached the girls’ varsity squad due to the absence of Coach Nathan Damato, who committed to assisting USA Water Polo. The girls defeated Long Beach Poly 19-1 and St. Francis 20-2 on Friday at El Toro High School then beat Huntington Beach 9-2 and Foothill 5-2 on Saturday at Corona del Mar. On Sunday, they defeated Orange Lutheran 10-8 in the semi’s before surviving Mater Dei in a shootout for the title.
Against the Monarchs, who returned their entire squad from 2016, Breakers led much of the contest and held a slim 10-8 lead. In the closing minutes, Mater Dei tied the contest to force a shootout under tournament rules. In the high school season, tie games are settled with two, three-minute overtime periods followed by sudden death). Mater Dei held an early 2-1 edge. Quinn Winter, substituting for injured Thea Walsh, blocked three consecutive Monarch shots while Evan Tingler, Alana Evans and Sophia Lucas converted their shots giving Laguna a 3-2 edge and the victory.
Laguna Goals vs Mater Dei: Alana Evans, Grace Houlehan – 2, Claire Kelly – 2, Sophia Lucas – 4, Alex Peros, Evan Tingler – 3. Steals: Isabel Riches – 4, Assists: Riches – 2, Tingler – 2. Breakers drew four exclusions and were excluded seven times. Quinn Winter was amazing in the cage.
Breakers won in 2014 and 2015, losing to Orange Lutheran 6-5 in last year’s finals.
Last minute replacement for La Costa Canyon, the young Laguna junior varsity finished 10th. The squad, coached by Rob Carver, a CIF water polo co-player of the year with Tingler in 1983, surprised a number of solid varsity programs. JV beat Agoura 19-6 and San Ramon Valley 8-5 on Friday at Beckman HS, before narrowly losing to Foothill varsity 7-6 on Saturday at CdM. The JV bounced back to defeat Huntington Beach 8-2 and Santa Margarita 8-7 before falling to Campolindo 7-6 on Sunday.
Freshman Nicole Struss led the way on offense with fellow frosh Rachael Carver, Molly Renner, and Jessie Rose contributing key goals.
FINAL TOP 20: 1 – Laguna Beach, 2 – Mater Dei, 3 – Carlsbad, 4 – Orange Lutheran, 5 – Los Alamitos, 6 – Foothill, 7 – Newport Harbor, 8 – Corona del Mar, 9 – Campolindo, 10 – Laguna JV, 11 – Santa Margarita, 12 – San Clemente, 13 – San Marcos, 14 – Davis, 15 – Huntington Beach, 16 – Leland, 17 – La Canada, 18 – Segerstrom, 19 – San Ramon Valley, 20 – Coronado
The boys water polo team finished 16th out of 45 teams, defeating Oaks Christian 11-10 and Gunn 15-5 before dropping four matches with a 12-5 loss to Sacred Heart Prep, 11-2 to Loyola, 10-7 to Miramonte, and 7-5 to Huntington Beach.
Mater Dei defeated Campolindo (Moraga) for the title.
USA Water Polo Junior Olympics are in Orange County beginning Saturday, July 22:
USA Water Polo
Laguna Beach sisters Makenzie and Aria Fischer scored two goals each in the Women’s Senior National team defeat of South Africa 24-2 last Sunday, July 16, in the opening game of the FINA World Championships in Budapest. The U.S. was to play Spain this past Tuesday, July 18, and New Zealand on Thursday, July 20. Playoff matches are July 22, quarters on July 24, semi’s on July 26 and finals on July 28. Check the new Olympic Channel (Cox 1130) for coverage.
Have a summer update on Laguna teams or players ? – send to Frank @ [email protected]