El Toro passes first test in Irvine SoCal Championships


Water polo.

It would have been easy Thursday night to point to Allison Skaggs as the reason El Toro's girls water polo team cruised past Montebello at the Irvine Southern California Championships.

The senior netted seven goals, including four from center, to lead the No. 8 Chargers to an 8-2 victory in a high-profile, second-round match at Foothill.

The Michigan-bound Skaggs, however, pointed to her teammates' ability to get her the ball at 2 meters as a major key.

"We talk about that a lot in practices -- about the placement of the passes -- and they did the best they ever have in this game," Skaggs said of teammates.

Skaggs scored the first six goals, using a variety of shots. She fired in two goals on back-handed shots, one off a lob from center, another on a turn move, and also added a penalty conversion and counterattack.

"As a former 2-meter player, she made me proud as a coach," El Toro's Brett McCleave said. "She's a monster (at center)."

El Toro's cohesive offense was supported by a pressing defense that didn't allow Montebello a goal until late in the third.

El Toro goalie Emily Browning anchored the unit with 12 saves, including one on a first-period penalty shot.

The victory pushed El Toro (14-5), ranked second in Division 2, into Friday's 6 p.m. quarterfinal against top-seeded Foothill, which advanced with an 11-3 victory against San Marcos.

In other second-round games:

Agoura 9, No. 4 Santa Margarita 8 (OT): Blake Stringer scored in sudden-death overtime to lift the Chargers at the Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center. Agoura plays third-seeded Newport Harbor in the quarterfinals today.

No. 2 Newport Harbor 12, Carlsbad 4: Carly Christian and Avery Peterson each scored three goals to lead the Sailors.

Corona del Mar 20, Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach 2: Stephania Haralabidis had five goals and five assists to lead the host Sea Kings, who play host to Los Alamitos in the quarterfinals.

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