The Laguna Beach High boys' soccer team registered its fourth consecutive shutout and the Breakers collected their fourth win of the season in the process Wednesday when they blanked visiting Oxford Academy of Cypress, 2-0, in nonleague play at Guyer Field.
Reed Matthews and Willy Wheeler scored goals, Grifan Fair and Hunter Ashworth each had an assist, and senior Bryce Williamson and sophomore Pierce Ashworth both had three saves in goal for Laguna which upped its record to 4-0-1.
The Breakers have surrendered only one goal, during a 5-1 season-opening win against Dana Hills on Nov. 30, in five matches.
"It is always good to get another victory under our belts and getting the shutout was also a big positive," Laguna Coach Daniel Richards said. "We weren't as clinical in front of goal as we should have been and will need to do a better job of finishing during league play. I was happy with how we controlled the majority of the play, especially in the second half, but we know we must continue to improve to be successful in league."
The Breakers started the previous week with a 6-0 rout of visiting Saddleback Valley Christian on Dec. 14. Reece Barton and Hunter Ashworth both scored twice, and Chris Tellez and Harrison Gregory scored single goals.
"This game gave us a great chance to move some players around and test the strength of our squad," Richards said. "We had some good moments in the game although we weren't as fluid or consistent as I would have liked. We always looked pretty comfortable at the back and we know we have the ability to make things happen going forward."
Two days after a scheduled game at Aliso Niguel was canceled, the Breakers returned to play Monday and blanked visiting Trabuco Hills. Barton, Matthews, Wheeler, Edward Willette and Zach Jacobs, netted goals.
In both wins, the Breakers had established 3-0 halftime leads to take control.
"This was another great result for our program and shows we are moving in the right direction," Richards said. "We always feel confident we will be able to create goal-scoring opportunities with the talent we have and our defense and goalkeepers have also been very solid in each game.
"Even though we are happy with the result, there are also some areas of our play we were disappointed with. The game was very choppy at times and we didn't control the rhythm or tempo as much as we would have liked for periods of the game." Both Bryce [Williamson] and Pierce [Ashworth] did a great job in goal being able to make saves when it mattered. It's not easy for keepers when they're not involved for long stretches of a game and then get called in to duty. It definitely helps our defenders stay calm and relaxed when they have confidence in the goalie."
The Breakers play one final game before heading into winter break. They'll travel Friday for a 5 p.m. nonleague match at Sage Hill.
It's Laguna's final game until a Jan. 4 nonleague home game with Woodbridge.
"The season so far has brought a lot of positives for the team," Richards said. "We wanted to test ourselves against bigger and more established soccer programs during our nonleague games to see how we stacked up. The results have been very positive and the lads are growing in confidence week by week.
"We have a few more tough games coming up and know that the real hard work will begin once league starts. The teams in the Orange Coast League are very talented and have been getting some excellent results over the past few weeks, as well. "
The Breakers start Orange Coast League play on Jan. 9.
The Breakers head to the desert next week on their annual holiday trek to play nonleague competition. First up is a Thursday game at Xavier Prep. They'll also take on host Indio on Dec. 28. Both matches start at 11 a.m.
Laguna is coming off a 2-0 loss to visiting Irvine in a nonleague game played Tuesday.
GIRLS' WATER POLO
The Breakers overcame a slow start Wednesday in their nonleague game against San Clemente to score an 18-8 win over the visiting Tritons.
Makenzie Fischer, in just her second game back since playing with the USA Water Polo Women's Youth National Team (18-and-Under) at the FINA Youth Water Polo World Championships in Australia earlier this month, led all scorers with eight goals to go with two assists and three steals. Mackenzie Baldridge scored five times and had three assists and four steal sand Lexi Del Toro had three goals, four assists and three steals.
Sydney Saxe and Haley Evans also scored, Natalie Seline had two assists, and Jenna Knott and Holly Parker both had four saves.
Laguna, ranked No. 6 in CIF Southern Section Division 1, went from a 2-1 lead after one quarter, into a 7-3 advantage at the half. The Breakers extended their lead to 13-5 heading into the fourth quarter to win their third straight game to improve to 4-1.
"We really took control of things in the second quarter," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "I thought we really found a nice rhythm there in the second and third quarters."
In a previous outing, Laguna scored a road win at Mater Dei on Dec. 14 by edging the Monarchs, 9-8. Baldridge, who Damato said signed in November with UC Santa Barbara, tied for game scoring honors with four goals.
Brighid Burnes scored twice as did Fischer.
Knott had eight saves.
Laguna will play host to San Marcos, ranked ninth in Division 1, in nonleague play at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Next week, the Breakers start play on Thursday at the Newport Holiday Cup tournament.
Three Laguna Beach High athletes committed to four-year schools in the past week.
Water polo players Lexi Del Toro and Sydney Saxe committed to Ivy League schools Harvard and Princeton, respectively, last week.
Volleyball player Weston Barnes committed on Dec. 13 to George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.).
"I'm so proud of both Lexi and Sydney and so proud that we've had so many great girls come through our program," Laguna water polo coach Ethan Damato said. "They have worked really hard to achieve this. That says a lot about their work ethic."
Barnes, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter, said he selected George Mason following an official recruiting visit earlier this month to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
"George Mason felt so right to me when I was on campus," Barnes said. "The school spirit there is amazing and the coach there [Fred Chao] is awesome. I loved the visit there."
"Weston is a tremendous athlete," Laguna boys' volleyball coach Scott Panaro said of Barnes, a senior outside hitter. "George Mason is lucky to have a young man of his skill and character on and off the court. Weston has been working extremely hard this fall and it is so nice to see his dedication, hard work and desire pay off. I am confident he will do great things for GMU. I am so happy for Weston and his family."
Twitter: @MikeSciaccaCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun