CIF girls water polo: Foothill-Laguna Beach semifinal preview

February 23rd, 2016, 12:39 pm ·

· posted by DAN ALBANO

Wednesday’s CIF girls water polo semifinals


FOOTHILL (23-6) vs. LAGUNA BEACH (27-2)

Site, time: William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center, 7 p.m.

Outlook: The top-seeded and two-time defending champion Breakers are 2-0 against the No. 5-seeded Knights. They won the early-season games convincingly, 10-4, and, 11-5. Laguna Beach beat Foothill in the finals of the Holiday Cup on Dec. 30 and won the teams’ nonleague game at Foothill the following week. Foothill’s goal output in the first match was a season-low. Laguna Beach also used a pair of 5-1 periods in the first half of both games to setup victories.

The Breakers' signature has been their defense, which sparks an efficient counterattack. The most goals the Breakers have allowed in a game this season is seven. Laguna Beach has played at least two types of drops but still manages to apply pressure where needed and race into a counterattack, especially when an opponent takes an ill-advised perimeter shot.

Both teams have strong senior goalies who played in the teams’ Division 1 final last season, won by Laguna Beach, 11-6. The Breakers' Holly Parker has 199 saves while Foothill’s Kenzie Snyder has 204.

Sndyer, interestingly, had 15 saves the last time Foothill beat Laguna Beach, in Jan. 2014 as a sophomore. The Breakers have since won eight straight in the series, including a 5-0 run last season as they went 31-0.

Foothill’s strength is at 2 meters. The Knights attack with sophomore center Noelle Wijnbelt, who has a team-leading 77 goals. Foothill will own the height advantage with other players such as utility Lana Gorlinski (eight goals in CIF) and center Hannah Bradley. The Breakers could play one of their drop-defenses to slow Foothill's center-attack and force shots from the outside. Attackers Sophie Leggett (74 goals) and Bella Baldridge (72) pace the Laguna Beach offense, which doesn’t feature a true center and relies more on movement.

Mater Dei slowed the Breakers’ power-play in the quarterfinals by pressing Baldridge and placing a shot-blocker in the goal for the cross-cage shot from the left hander’s wing. Laguna Beach coach Ethan Damato said Mater Dei was the first team to press the left-handed Baldridge on the power play.

Twitter poll: Pick the Foothill-Laguna Beach winner


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