Los Alamitos' girls water polo team and Coach Dave Carlson after a 7-3 victory at the California State High School Championships on Friday at Huntington Beach.

Re-energized Carlson returns to coach Los Al girls


HUNTINGTON BEACH Dave Carlson felt “burnt out” when he resigned from coaching varsity water polo at Los Alamitos.

The avid sports fan recharged by attending football and baseball games throughout the country.

“I went to 11 baseball stadiums,” he recounted Friday. “I went to NFL games, a bunch of college football games, NBA games, college basketball.”

And while Carlson has four college football trips planned for this fall, his plans again include coaching the Los Alamitos girls varsity team in the winter. Carlson said at the California State High School Championships that he has replaced girls coach Brent Danna, who remains the Griffins’ boys coach.

“I had my break. I’m good,” Carlson said after the Griffins opened the 48-team girls state summer tournament with a 7-3 victory against Agoura at Huntington Beach.

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“This group kind of needs a lot of work. The boys need a lot of work. So now Danna can concentrate on the boys, I can concentrate on the girls. He’ll help me out, I’ll help him out. … I’m having fun.”

Carlson, 41, said he finalized his return last week. He spent one season away from the Griffins’ varsity girls water polo program that was a county fixture during his tenure. Last season, he coached the Los Alamitos junior varsity girls while Danna guided the varsity girls to the CIF-SS Division 1 quarterfinals, where they fell to eventual champion Laguna Beach.

Carlson stopped coaching the Los Alamitos boys after the 2012 season but guides the 18-and-under club boys at SOCAL.

“I just needed a mental break because I was overwhelmed for a long time,” he said. “I was burnt out. ...  (Now) I’m re-energized, re-charged.”

The Griffins played Carlson’s preferred brand of tough defense against Agoura, a semifinalist last season in Division 2. Agoura trimmed Los Alamitos’ lead to 3-2 with 1:38 left in the first half but was then held scoreless for about 11 ½ minutes as the Griffins built a 5-2 lead early in the fourth.

“They really buy into having the best defense,” Carlson said of his team, which scored the first two goals. “They’re fun to coach.”

Sophomore-to-be Madison Ravelo assisted and scored in the fourth to help the Griffins finish strong. Ravelo, who joins seniors Abbey Blake (center) and Lauren Dvonch as a returning starter, finished with two goals.

Goalie Tara Debrabander, one of four freshmen on the Los Alamitos roster, added six steals.

“We have a young group,” Carlson said. “A lot of the girls moved up from JV.”

Agoura also featured an inexperienced squad with two returning starters. The Chargers also lost Gaby Vilches to a move to Chile but got seven saves and six steals from goalie Emma Pfister. “We’re going through growing pains,” Agoura coach Jason Rosenthal said.

In another first round game:

Huntington Beach 18, Los Osos 7: Sophomore-to-be center Julia Rozolis-Hill scored seven goals and Kalista Hyham added four to lead the host Oilers.

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