Two seniors at top-ranked Laguna Beach High School — Imani Clemons and Kenedy Corlett — are among eight women’s water polo recruits who have signed National Letters of Intent to play for UCSB next year.
Clemons and Corlett will join a Gaucho team that already includes Laguna Beach alumnae Claire Kelly and Evie Laptin. The Breakers will be defending back-to-back CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championships this year. They’ve won five of the last seven Division 1 titles.
Clemons scored 27 goals, assisted six others and made 15 steals as a junior last season.
“I think she’s one of the best centers in the country,” Laguna Beach coach Ethan Damato said.
She also competes for USA Water Polo’s Saddleback Del Toro team and was selected to the 2019 ODP Girls Youth National Team.
“As a center, Imani is a dominant force in the paint, creating presence and forcing teams into a zone defense,” UCSB coach Serela Kay said. “She has great hands and knows how to score.
“Imani has grown up being a part of a winning culture and has an infectious personality that makes everyone around her better.”
Corlett recorded 13 goals, 10 assists, and 18 steals for Laguna Beach during her junior season.
“Playing in the same lineup as Imani, Kenedy also has a knack for success with a handful of championships,” Kay said. “She is a defender that has the ability to match up with anyone in the country.
“Coupling this with her speed and ability to score offensively makes her a lethal asset.”
The Gauchos also signed Santa Margarita High’s Melanie Damato, the younger sister of Laguna Beach coach Ethan Damato. She led the Eagles to consecutive league championships and a CIF-SS Division 2 title in 2019. Like Clemons, she competes for Saddleback Del Toro and was selected to the 2019 ODP Girls Youth National Team.
“Mel has a high game IQ and good feel for the game with her extensive water polo experience,” Kay said. “She not only has a defensive mindset but also reads well offensively adding glue to the front court.
“Mel has competed with and against the best in our sport whose competitive spirit makes her a player who will not back down.”
UCSB’s signees include Camni Mras, Damato’s Santa Margarita High teammate. Mras was chosen to the ODP Girls’ Cadet National Team in 2018 while playing for Regency Water Polo Club.
“Cami is versatile, being able to play anywhere in the pool,” Kay said. “Cami can match up as a defender and take that player to the paint on the offensive end.
“Her versatility makes her invaluable depending on the lineup and opponent,” said Kay.
Other recruits to sign with the Gauchos are Mater Dei goalkeeper Casey Coppock, Carlsbad High attacker Emily Ferguson, San Ramon Valley High utility player Annie Kuester, and Miramonte High attacker Mackenzie Murphy, and
They comprise the largest recruiting class signed by the Gaucho women’s water polo team since 10 high school stars committed in 2017.
“This class fills a huge role in the paint both offensively and defensively, along with adding speed and creating a high tempo in the attack,” Kay said. “Their presence combined with a habit of winning will catapult our program into continuing its championship culture.
“Exciting times are ahead.”