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Laguna Beach shows its depth in sinking Foothill
Laguna Beach's boys water polo program proved Tuesday just how deep its current talent pool runs.
The sixth-ranked Breakers blended five seniors with several sophomores in a 10-7 nonleague victory against No. 5 Foothill in a duel of Division 2 contenders at Laguna Beach.
Senior Riley Thomas scored two of his match-high four goals in the first period as Laguna Beach opened a 5-1 lead.
The Breakers (10-6) led by five goals twice in the second half and went on to collect a sixth consecutive victory.
Laguna Beach also received two goals and strong 2-meter defense from senior Caleb Scott and two first-period goals from senior Camron Hauer.
Thomas, Hauer and Scott were key parts of a Nolan McConnell-led Division 3 title team last season. They now join forces with new players to watch.
First-year starting goalie Maxx McCarter made 13 saves against Foothill (10-6), ranked second to Agoura in Division 2.
Laguna Beach center Duncan Lynde, a 6-foot-7, 300-pound senior, scored from 2 meters and drew three exclusions. And Jack Dodson, one of a few sophomores who played, added a goal and four steals for the Breakers, ranked fifth in Division 2.
“We have some great seniors who are still here who contributed big last year,” Laguna Beach coach Ethan Damato said. “And we have a great group of sophomores and juniors who have really filled in nicely this year.”
Still, Laguna Beach only features two returning starters from last season: Thomas and Hauer. But the Breakers' current hot-streak features come-from-behind wins against Coronado and Dana Hills.
"We worked really hard to set a tradition over the last couple years," Damato said. "I think our guys that are here now feel like it's their turn to hold up that tradition."
McCarter helped anchor a defense that shut out Foothill's 2-meter attack. He highlighted his match with consecutive point-blank stops against back-handed shots from 2 meters in the third period.
“We always knew he had (that type of play) in him,” Thomas said of McCarter, who sat behind standout Erik Henrikson last season.
Said Damato of McCarter, "Maxx is an absolute freak. He's one of the best athletes in the school. He's a three-sport guy, plays volleyball, does track. He high jumps in track. .. We've got a good volleyball team, too."
Scott utilized several defensive techniques and wasn't called for an exclusion. He excelled at swimming around centers to gain position and also fronted 2 meters.
"He's a great defender," Damato said. "We actually wanted him to front a little more than he did in the first half. That was an adjustment we made at halftime. ... I think he's one of the most under-rated players in the county."
Laguna Beach could make a case for the No. 2 ranking in the division with a victory Thursday against visiting Murrieta Valley, fourth in the division.
“They played really well,” Foothill coach Jim Brumm said of the Breakers. "We settled down after that first quarter."
Kyle Sueme scored three goals to pace Foothill.
Said Damato of facing Murrieta Valley, "This one (against Foothill) doesn't really mean very much if we don't take care of that game. They're tough."
In another nonleague game:
No. 8 El Toro 13, Loyola of Los Angeles 11: The visiting Chargers didn't earn a power-play chance but got 13 saves and a third-period goal from goalie Byron Rivers against the Cubs - ranked second in Division 1 -- at the John C. Argue pool in Los Angeles. Matt Roche scored five goals for El Toro while Joey Colton added seven assists. "That proved we can play with anyone," El Toro coach Brett McCleave said of the game.
Chancellor Ramirez scored a game-high six goals for Loyola.
In the South Coast League:
No. 7 Dana Hills 8, Capistrano Valley 7: Spencer Likins had three goals and three assists to help the visiting Dolphins (12-5, 3-0) edge the Cougars (9-13, 0-3) and goalie Alex Furlong (13 saves).