Winter notes: Laguna Beach develops new ways to win
Laguna Beach girls water polo coach Ethan Damato always had an ace, or two, to call upon the past two seasons with Makenzie and Aria Fischer on the team’s roster. This winter, he doesn’t have that luxury, but the two-time defending CIF-SS Division 1 champions continue to roll.
“The star of the team is the team,” Damato said of the Breakers (9-0), who won the Holiday Cup tournament last week and extended their Orange County-record winning streak to 61 games.
“It’s a challenge (coaching) for sure, but it’s a lot of fun. We’re a very deep team. … At the same time, you’re missing Aria and Makenzie, who (could) take the game over.
“(Now) we got to rely a little bit more on everyone. That’s nerveracking but also a lot of fun. It’s very rewarding, I feel, as a coach, and hopefully for the group girls, too.”
With the Fischer sisters training and playing for the U.S. national team, Laguna Beach’s experienced players have adjusted to new roles.
UC Santa Barbara-bound senior Natalie Selin has increased her scoring output with 20 goals, which almost matches her output from last season.
Freshman Sophie Leggett leads the team in scoring with 25 goals, one more than junior Bella Baldridge, and sophomores Evan Tingler and Sophia Lucas have combined for 19 goals and 16 assists.
“There’s a lot of developing going on with new roles,” Damato said. “Everybody’s role has changed.”
Laguna Beach plays at second-ranked Foothill on Thursday at 4 p.m.
The CIF Southern Section record for consecutive wins in girls water polo is 85 by Bell Gardens. …
No. 9 El Toro plays host to No. 8 San Clemente on Thursday at 4 p.m. The South Coast League foes will meet for the first time since last season’s CIF Division 2 final, won by El Toro, 5-4.
The Falcon Tournament started Monday. The round-robin finals are Saturday at Santa Ana Valley.
- DAN ALBANO
Third-ranked Laguna Hills visits fourth-ranked Trabuco Hills in a South Coast League showdown Tuesday night. The match starts at approximately 6:30 p.m.
The teams were both at the Tournament of Champions last week. Laguna Hills finished third and Trabuco Hills was sixth, but led all county teams with six individual medalists.
In tournament action this week: Tustin is the site for the Asics Southern California Challenge on Friday and Saturday. Esperanza will host a one-day tournament Saturday.
Servite and Mater Dei will be at the Peoria Tournament in Arizona on Friday and Saturday.
Calvary Chapel, Esperanza, Laguna Hills and San Clemente will have wrestlers in the Doc Buchanan Invitational at Clovis High.
- DAMIAN CALHOUN
Villa Park’s girls soccer team defeated Desert Vista of Phoenix, 1-0, last week in the championship game of the Arizona Showcase.
Desert Vista (10-3-0) is the second-ranked team in Arizona and 36th nationally. Danielle Leavelle scored the winning goal for the Spartans (9-1-1).
Villa Park advanced past Rosary, 4-2, on penalty kicks in the semifinals.
The morning games were played in 30-35 degree temperatures, according to Spartans coach Brent Whitfield.
“It took us a whole half to kind of get adjusted to everything out there,” he said. “We actually could have been down a couple of goals if it wasn’t for our freshman goalkeeper making a couple of big saves to keep us in the game.”
Freshman Cameron Illingworth made 18 saves in the four games and allowed just two goals.
Whitfield also was impressed with sophomore midfielder Danielle Wiens, who filled in at center back.
Villa Park senior Lauren Polyakov and Illingworth were named to the all-tournament team along with Rosary’s Roisin Allaeddini and Olivia LaCasto.
- ANDREW TURNER, Contributing writer
Santa Margarita, Tesoro and Los Alamitos each won a tournament championship last week.
Senior forward Chris Klier scored both goals for Tesoro in a 2-0 triumph over Dana Hills in the Mustang Cup final.
Los Alamitos and Santa Magartia were in Oceanside for the So Cal High School Classic, which draws some of the top boys soccer teams in the southwest.
Julian Guerrero knocked in a pass from Adam Havstad to give Los Alamitos a 1-0 victory against Cathedral Catholic of San Diego in the National Division championship match.
Santa Margarita won the Coast Division championship, beating San Clemente, 1-0, in the final. Jonathan Stoop scored on a penalty kick.
- DAMIAN DOTTORE