Thirteen Laguna Beach High student-athletes took a big step in their educational and athletic futures by committing to universities on National Signing Day on Wednesday.
Laguna athletes will compete in the future in conferences such as the Pac-12, Big West, West Coast, Centennial, Big East and Ivy League.
"We are very proud of these student-athletes who have excelled on the playing field and in the classroom," Laguna Athletic Director Mike Churchill said. "We wish them all the best of luck in their college careers."
Players who committed and/or signed letters of intent on Wednesday were: Allison Palmer (women's volleyball, Arizona State); Marina Paul (women's soccer, Georgetown); Melena Masson (women's water polo, Stanford); Samer Alkateb (men's water polo, UC Santa Barbara); Nolan McConnell (men's water polo, Long Beach State); Katherine Barton (rowing, Harvard); Yoshi Andersen (women's water polo, Harvard); Caroline Holte (women's volleyball, Harvard); Lauren Michaels (women's tennis, Cornell); Tommy Renner (men's water polo, Johns Hopkins); Erik Henrikson (men's water polo, Johns Hopkins); Rachele Killian (women's volleyball, Brown); Avery Bush (women's volleyball, Loyola Marymount).
Ethan Damato, boys' and girls' water polo coach at Laguna, coached several of the athletes who committed on Wednesday.
"I couldn't be more proud of our kids and the work they have put in over the years," he said. "They have each worked so hard to get to this point, both in the water and in the classroom. We talk every year about trying to provide a program for our student-athletes that can help them be successful at the next level and this year is a fine example of that. I am very proud and humbled to be a part of it all."
Girls' Water Polo
The Laguna Beach girls' water polo team clinched another Orange Coast League championship Wednesday by routing host Godinez, 26-3, at Santa Ana Valley High.
The Breakers (3-0 in league) were led in scoring by Sydney Saxe's six goals. Makenzie Fischer had five goals and five assists and Yoshi Andersen scored four goals.
Laguna must have felt déjà vu when it played a nonleague game Jan. 27 at Newport Harbor.
Newport's Elissia Schilling scored on a backhand shot with 43 seconds remaining in the second sudden-death overtime to lift the second-ranked Sailors to an 11-10 victory over the sixth-ranked Breakers. Schilling also dealt the Breakers the decisive dagger Jan. 13 when the teams met in the quarterfinals of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions. She scored the winning goal in a 7-6 overtime victory.
Andersen's five goals led Laguna (16-5), which has lost four, one-goal games to Division 1-ranked teams this year.
"We had a very bad first half and Newport came out playing well," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "You just can't play a bad quarter or half against the top teams and expect to win. So far this season, we have been unable to put together four good quarters against the top teams and yet we still find ourselves with a chance to win every game.
"We played a great second half and like always, had our chances to win. We feel like we are a mistake or two away from beating anyone and we are confident we will get better . A goal or two a game is not a lot to make up. I know we will get there."
The Breakers are playing in the Irvine Southern California Women's Water Polo Championships at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center. The 32-team tournament continues Friday and concludes Saturday.
Next week, the Breakers will try to sew up another undefeated league run when they host Costa Mesa at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday. A victory over the Mustangs would give Laguna is sixth straight undefeated league run.
The Breakers played Estancia to a scoreless tie Tuesday, a result that kept Laguna atop the Orange Coast League standings with Godinez. Both teams are 3-0-4. Calvary Chapel is next at 2-0-5 and Estancia is 2-1-4.
Laguna has a chance to move closer to a league championship Monday when it hosts Godinez in a 6:15 p.m. showdown at Guyer Field. On Wednesday, it hosts Saddleback at 6:15 p.m.
The Breakers slipped to 2-4-1 in Orange Coast League play Wednesday after dropping a 3-2 match at Estancia. Joe Rousseau and Miguel Jaimes scored for the Breakers (6-5-3), who rallied in the second half after falling behind, 2-0, at the break.
"Estancia is always a tough place to travel to and play," Laguna Coach Daniel Richards said. "We didn't get going in the first half at all, and Estancia easily deserved their halftime lead. The boys did a great job making the adjustments needed in the second half to get us back in the game and put pressure on their back line."
The Breakers have three league matches remaining, starting with a 4:30 p.m. game Friday against Costa Mesa at Estancia High. Next week, they'll host Godinez on Tuesday and host Saddleback on Thursday. Both matches start at 6:30 p.m.
"With three games to go in league, we know it will be tough to make the playoffs but it is still definitely our goal and one we can achieve," Richards said. "We haven't had much luck so far this year and certain results could have easily been different on another day. We're looking forward to Friday's game against Costa Mesa and will go into it looking to turn things around."
Twitter: @MikeSciaccaCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun