Winter notes: O.C.'s top teams seek Santa Barbara TOC title
Orange County girls water polo will be well represented this week at arguably the most competitive tournament of the regular season.
Nine teams ranked in the county’s top 10 will play at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, which runs Thursday through Saturday.
The top-four seeded teams are No. 1 Laguna Beach, No. 2 San Marcos of Santa Barbara, No. 3 Foothill and No. 4 Orange Lutheran.
The tournament includes eight play-in games Thursday with the winners advancing to the main tournament draw Friday and the loser’s moving to a separate group for the weekend.
The Breakers (10-0), the tournament’s two-time defending champion, are seeking to capture an eighth consecutive regular-season tournament.
Laguna Beach enters the week riding an Orange County-record 62-game winning streak.
The Breakers will prepare for the tournament by playing play at Dos Pueblos of Goleta on Thursday at 7 p.m. Dos Pueblos defeated visiting Mater Dei, 11-4, on Saturday. …
Huntington Beach, the lone county top-10 team not playing in Santa Barbara, have a big match Wednesday. Huntington Beach, unranked in Division 1, takes on county No. 6 Newport Harbor in the Sunset League at 5 p.m. …
Former Mission Viejo player Kristen Zepeda is coaching Trabuco Hills. The Mustangs don’t have a senior, but Zepeda, 25, has guided the team to victories against South County rivals Laguna Hills, Aliso Niguel and Tesoro (twice).
The Mustangs, led by sophomore attacker Tina Doherty, finished sixth at the Western tournament on Saturday. …
Division 4 contender Mission Viejo finished second to Arroyo Grande at the Arroyo Grande Winter Classic over the weekend. Arroyo Gande, ranked No. 1 in Division 3, beat the Diablos, 12-5. …
El Toro goalie Tori Rainone has committed to UC San Diego.
- DAN ALBANO
Mater Dei’s girls soccer team is riding a three-game winning streak going into the start of play in the Trinity League.
The Monarchs (10-3-2), the defending CIF-SS Division 1 champions, have outscored their past three opponents, 6-0. They are ranked No. 6 in the county.
Mater Dei opens league with home games against Rosary (6-2-4) on Saturday and No. 3 Santa Margarita (8-3-0) next Tuesday.
The Monarchs are led by Hailey Hopkins (11 goals) and Miami commit Lauren Markwith (eight goals). Madison Puliafico, who is committed to UC Irvine, is second in the county in saves with 75. ...
In the South Coast League last week, ninth-ranked San Clemente (7-2-6, 0-0-1) earned a 1-1 draw against No. 4 Aliso Niguel, which is the defending league champion.
Gabi Drabkin scored for San Clemente, and Remy Matthews scored for the Wolverines (11-1-1, 0-0-1) on a second-half penalty kick. Lauren Brzykcy had 18 saves for the Tritons.
The two league favorites meet again Jan. 28 at Aliso Niguel.
- ANDREW TURNER, Contributing writer
The wrestling schedule is crowded this week.
The key dual is in the South Coast League as Laguna Hills hosts San Clemente. The Hawks are vying for an undefeated league dual title. Last year, the Tritons spoiled the Hawks’ plans.
An important dual in the Sea View League is set for Thursday as Aliso Niguel visits Capistrano Valley.
The county’s top tournament this week is the annual 5 Counties Invitational begins Friday at Fountain Valley at 9 a.m. The tournament concludes Saturday. The matches starts at 9 a.m. and the finals begin at 5:30 p.m.
Some of the top wrestlers in the county and Southern Section will compete Saturday in the Go Big or Go Home Wrestling Classic at Tustin. Also Saturday are the Temecula Valley Battle for the Belt and a one-day tournament at Troy.
- DAMIAN CALHOUN
If statistics can serve as a guide, Pacifica and Tustin stand little chance of scoring a goal when they face the Valencia boys soccer team this week.
Shutouts have been the norm for the Tigers (12-0-1), who have given up an average of one goal in every 3.25 games.
When Eduardo Chavez scored for Anaheim in the opening minutes of a game this past Friday, it ended Valencia’s five-game shutout streak.
Before this season, a well-organized defense had not usually been the Tigers’ strength.
“We do a good job of defending everywhere,” Coach Barry Gardner said. “We anticipate the spaces really well. Our defenders are tough. They win the ball. They are physical. Our midfield players end it in the middle.”
The Tigers will be without senior center back Mason Paine when they play host to Pacifica on Wednesday. Paine picked up a second yellow card Friday, and he will have to sit out the game.
- DAMIAN DOTTORE
BOYS WATER POLO
Foothill attacker Mike Miller, who helped the Knights capture back-to-back CIF Division 2, has committed to Air Force.
- DAN ALBANO