Aiming for the top — that's the spot the Laguna Beach High girls' water polo program always sets its sights on.
It's where the focus is again in the 2012-13 season, one in which Coach Ethan Damato welcomes back six players including five starters, from a group that last year finished the season ranked No. 3 and was one play away from playing in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title game. Twice in the past two years have the Breakers fallen in overtime games in the semifinal round including last year to eventual champion Newport Harbor.
The Breakers begin the new season without All-Orange Coast League and All-CIF player Makenzie Fischer who will be in Perth, Australia, Sunday through Dec. 9, competing with the USA Water Polo Women's Youth National Team (18 and Under) at the FINA World Youth Water Polo Championships. Damato said that Fischer will return to the Laguna lineup next month.
The following is a capsule look at the 2012-13 Breakers:
Head coach: Ethan Damato (sixth year)
Coaching staff: Trevor Lyle, Jonathon Hewko, Chris Stansbury.
Last year's record: 26-7
2012 league record: 4-0 (champion)
CIF results: Reached semifinal round Division 1 playoffs.
Returning players: Jenna Knott (GK, first-team all-league, Jr.); Lexi Del Toro (Driver, first-team all-league, third-team All-CIF, co-captain, Sr.); Sydney Saxe (DEF, first-team all-league, co-captain, Sr.); Mackenzie Baldridge (Driver, first-team all-league, co-captain, Sr.); Makenzie Fischer (Utility, first-team all-league, second-team All-CIF, Soph.); Kate Magnuson (Driver, second-team all-league, Sr.).
The roster: Holly Parker (GK, Fr.); Bridhid Burnes (Driver, Soph.); Haley Evans (Driver, Fr.); Natalie Evans (Driver, Fr.); Daniela Lucidi (Driver, Soph.); Ally Jochim (Driver, Fr.).
Coach's outlook: "This year we have a great mix of experienced varsity players and some great young talent," Damato said. "We are still very raw as a unit as many of these girls are stepping into brand new roles this year. We have been getting great leadership from our seniors already and I know they will set a high bar for the younger girls to rise to. Our sophomores and freshman are an extremely talented and hard working group. I am confident that we will come together as a group and compete with the best of the [CIF] Division 1 teams."
Season opener: def. Dana Hills, 11-5, Wednesday .
Girls' Water Polo Schedule
Wednesday : at Santiago, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 11: vs. Edison, 5 p.m. (at Ocean View High)
Dec. 14: at Mater Dei, 3:30 p.m.
Dec. 19: San Clemente, 4 p.m.
Dec. 21: San Marcos, 3:30 p.m.
Dec. 28-29: at Newport Harbor Holiday Cup