Girls Water Polo (13-1, 1-0)
Breakers 44-game win streak dating back to the beginning of last season ended last Saturday, Jan. 20, in a 6-5 loss at Mater Dei (11-2) under somewhat clouded officiating that even drew confirming comments from the host fans.
Laguna opened the contest in control as Claire Kelly scored off an Even Tingler pass in a power play on Laguna’s second possession for the first goal. Alex Peros scored on Laguna’s next try again from a great pass by Tingler. Molly Renner made it 3-0 on another power play opportunity with 1:34 remaining in the initial period.
Mater Dei got on the board with a power play goal in the closing seconds of the first quarter then added two quick scores in the initial minute of the second period to knot the contest at 3 each. Tingler scored near the end of the period to give Laguna a slim 4-3 lead at the intermission.
The third quarter gave Mater Dei the edge as they scored on a penalty shot and followed up with another goal 30 seconds later. It took Laguna nearly six minutes to tie the contest on a goal by Alex Peros off a perfect pass by Isabel Riches. The comeback lasted less than a minute as the final score came off an outside shot with fewer than three minutes remaining. Breakers had their chances to tie it up but could not convert.
Laguna was penalized overall with eight exclusions and two five-meter calls. Mater Dei only converted on one power play and one five meter shot against the Laguna defense, but they were called only twice after the initial period for exclusions despite their over aggressive play.
Laguna was hampered by key defender Evan Tingler’s two early fouls and Sophia Lucas being far less than 100% after her injury two days earlier against Corona del Mar. Breakers lead the all-time series with the Monarchs 14-1.
The path for redemption will be at the 32-team Southern California Championships Feb. 1-3 at Irvine’s Woollett Center that will feature all top eight teams. Breakers have won the event the past four years and should be completely healthy for this year’s run.
The re-scheduled Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions is this weekend with Laguna and three other teams skipping the event. Breaker players had academic finals on two of the tournament dates so had to pass.
They will travel to eighth-ranked Huntington Beach (8-4) in a newly scheduled non-league match on Friday, Jan. 26, at the Oiler pool.
Last week the Breakers defeated fourth-ranked Corona del Mar 3-2 in the lowest scoring contest in 18 years on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at the Laguna Community Pool. An overflow crowd watched Laguna take an early 2-0 lead but faltered when their top player, Sophia Lucas, went out with a neck injury. That seemed to stifle the Breaker attack and both teams settled into a well-played defensive battle. Breakers scored on one of three power play opportunities while CdM earned only one try, but did not convert. Thea Walsh had some brilliant saves with 12 stops.