A close first half turned into a big victory for the top-ranked Laguna Beach High girls' water polo team, which defeated Dana Hills Tuesday in a season opener for both teams.
After the visiting Dolphins pulled to within two goals of Laguna in the second quarter, it was then that the Breakers pulled away to an eventual, 22-9 win.
Laguna took a 12-7 halftime lead and then went on to limit the Dolphins to two second-half goals.
Senior utility Cara Borkovec, a transfer student from Fenwick, Ill., playing her first game for Laguna, led all scorers with six goals. Bella Baldridge scored four goals, freshman utility Aria Fischer, also playing her first game as a Breaker, had three goals. Junior attacker Brighid Burnes, sophomore defender Ally Jochim, sophomore attacker Natalie Selin, and junior defender Taylor Julson, a transfer from El Toro also playing her first game, all scored twice.
Fischer had a team-high three steals and she and sophomore attacker Haley Evans both had three assists to lead the Breakers.
Senior goalie Jenna Knott had five saves.
Laguna played the match without starter Makenzie Fischer, who is with the USA Women's Senior National Team competing this week at the Canada Cup at Quebec, Canada.
"I thought the girls looked a little slow defensively and disjointed on the offensive end to start the game," Laguna Coach Ethan Damato said. "There are always nerves and excitement no matter how prepared you are. We need to get used to playing together again in game situation and get used to playing in our pool. We love playing here."
The Breakers hosted Corona Santiago Thursday. The score from the nonleague game wasn't available at press time.
Laguna plays once next week, at home against ninth-ranked Edison at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Chargers rallied to knock off host Long Beach Wilson, the 10th-ranked team in Division 2, 11-10, Wednesday.
"Santiago and Edison will both be tough home matches and a chance for us to test ourselves against two different styles of teams," Damato said. "Edison, being a Division 1 team, makes it a bit more exciting but really right now is all about us doing what we do. That's our focus in December, build our base and foundation as a team."
The Breakers launched their 2013-14 season Monday and played visiting St. Margaret's to a 2-2 tie score at Guyer Field.
Junior forward Willy Wheeler and senior forward Jake Hexberg scored for the Breakers.
"It was very clear from this opening game that the lads are going to need some time to find a rhythm and a better understanding of each other," Laguna Coach Dan Richards said. "The boys know they need to play a lot better and didn't give a good account of themselves.
"Although we were not happy with the performance, we still learned a lot from it and could also take some positives away from the game."
On Wednesday, Laguna and Irvine were scoreless at the half, but the host Vaqueros rode a second-half goal to a 1-0 nonleague win.
"[Wednesday] was always going to be tough, with the players we had unavailable," Richards said. "The team is already very young and when some of the more experienced players are unable to play, it made the situation a little more difficult.
"Despite the result, the boys showed a lot of growth during the match and improved in some areas compared to our opening game. Players who wouldn't normally start along with the lads called up from JV all gave a good account of themselves and worked hard throughout.
Laguna plays host to Crean Lutheran in a 4:45 p.m. nonleague game Friday at Guyer Field. Next week, the Breakers play host to three nonleague games beginning with a Monday match against Northwood. They're also at home Wednesday against Trabuco Hills and Dec. 13 against Tesoro. All three matches start at 6:30 p.m.
"Although the opening couple of games haven't been our best or at the level that will be needed to be successful in league, there have definitely been some bright moments and good individual performances," Richards said. "As long as the team stays focused and starts to really buy into what is needed of them, the performances will improve and then the results will follow."