Less than a week after being handed its first loss of the season, the Laguna Beach High girls' water polo team got back to its winning ways Wednesday.
The Breakers, who were derailed Jan. 10 at home by Foothill, stormed past host Saddleback, 27-8, in an Orange Coast League opener. Defensively, they held the Roadrunners to a single goal in the opening half, and were well in command at halftime, leading, 18-1.
Freshman attacker Bella Baldridge, junior utility Makenzie Fischer and senior utility Cara Borkovec, each scored four goals to lead the Laguna offense. Baldridge also had a team-high four assists.
The Breakers set new program records for points (27) in a game and total assists (25).
Laguna, the defending OCL champion, won its 10th game in improving to 10-1.
"It was good to see the girls playing loose and having fun," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "We had a great first quarter and jumped out to a big lead. Saddleback never gave up and played hard for four quarters.
"This [game] was great for us, because we were able to work on different defenses, run different plays, and get ready for the upcoming games this weekend. This game served as a nice tune-up before [Friday's] game with Dos Pueblos."
Laguna is in Santa Barbara this weekend for the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions. The two-day tournament starts Friday and runs through Saturday. Games will be played at the high school pools at Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos.
Laguna is the top seed in Pool A, which includes Santa Margarita, San Marcos, and Corona Santiago. Pool B includes Corona del Mar, Mater Dei, Murrieta Valley and Dos Pueblos; Pool C is Newport Harbor, Santa Barbara, Montebello and El Toro; Pool D is Foothill, Los Alamitos, Agoura and San Clemente.
The Breakers open tourney play at 1:30 p.m. Friday against Santiago at Santa Barbara High.
"The Tournament of Champions is the toughest tournament of the year as every year, the best 16 teams in Southern California are invited to play," Damato said. "The field is really tough every year and your spot is never guaranteed. A lot of the same teams [competing] from the Holiday Cup, but a deeper talent pool with most of the top [CIF Southern Section] Division 2 teams, as well."
One team the Breakers could run into at the tournament is Foothill.
The Knights did something that none of Laguna's previous nine opponents could do: beat the Breakers. They did it by an 8-7 final.
"Hats off to Foothill who came into our pool and played harder than us, pressed us and really controlled the tempo in the first half," Damato said. "We had an off-game in every aspect and just couldn't seem to get out of it.
"We had enough chances to win, we got a lot of good looks all game but had a hard time scoring. Defensively, we didn't finish every possession and thus gave up some goals late in the clock that really hurt us. I think we will learn from this game and be stronger because of it.
"Bottom line is, if we don't play well, we can lose and I think we had to learn that as a team the hard way."
The Foothill loss knocked LB from No. 1, a spot the Breakers have held since the start of the season.
That spot now belongs to Foothill.
"The rankings are important but we haven't even discussed them as a team," Damato said. "This weekend's [Santa Barbara] tournament has all the top teams including Foothill.
"We are excited to get back to work after that loss and I think have a little chip on our shoulder going into the weekend. "