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Girls' Water Polo: Sailors, Breakers clash for title

Laguna Beach, searching for its first Division 1 title, appears to be heavy favorite in CIF title match.

February 28, 2014|By Matt Szabo
(SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Getting three sevens can be enough to win a sizable amount of money on a slot machine in Las Vegas.

For the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team, three upset wins as the No. 7 seed equals the jackpot.

The Sailors indeed entered the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs as the No. 7 seed after late-season losses to Foothill, Corona del Mar and Los Alamitos. But after beating No. 2 Foothill, 5-4, in the quarterfinals and No. 6 Santa Barbara, 11-10, in the semifinals, the Sailors find themselves in the Division 1 title match for the third straight year.

Newport Harbor plays top-seeded Laguna Beach for the title at 1 p.m. Saturday at Irvine's Woollett Aquatics Center.

The last upset is the one that nobody is predicting. Laguna Beach is searching for its first Division 1 title, but this seems to be the Breakers' year. Led by junior star Makenzie Fischer, who has scored 125 goals this year, Laguna Beach (29-1) won all three of the major tournaments this season. The Breakers enter Saturday's match on a program-record 20-game winning streak.

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Laguna Beach, which pulled away in the first half of its 12-5 Division 1 semifinal victory over Los Alamitos, is loaded. If it's not Fischer beating you it's her younger sister, Aria, a freshman who is second on the team with 78 goals. USC-bound senior Cara Borkovec (60 goals) and freshman Bella Baldridge (55) are other dangerous parts of the Breakers' attack.

The Breakers also are 3-0 against Newport Harbor this year, each game more lopsided than the last. Laguna won, 11-8, for the Holiday Cup title on Jan. 4, and registered a 9-5 win in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions title match on Jan. 18. The third game, a 13-1 shellacking on Jan. 24, was Newport Harbor's worst loss in program history, though several Sailors were ravaged by sickness leading up to that contest.

Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said he expects Newport Coach Bill Barnett to have some tricks up his sleeve for the fourth meeting.

"I definitely don't think he's shown all his cards," Damato said. "I'm expecting them to make adjustments ... I guess my job on the other side is to try to anticipate that. It's a very fun chess game to be a part of, but ultimately it's going to come down to the girls in the pool."

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