Only seven local teams remained in the Central Coast Section water polo playoffs entering this week, but six of those seven could be playing for championships on Saturday.
In the Division I boys' tournament, No. 2 Palo Alto (18-7) and No. 4 Menlo-Atherton (16-9) reached the semifinals and play Tuesday night at Bellarmine Prep. Both are in opposite brackets and could meet each other in the finals.
In the Division II boys' playoffs, No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (24-3) and No. 3 Menlo (22-5) also play in opposite brackets in the semifinals on Tuesday at Lynbrook High, with both expecting to face each other in the finals.
The Menlo-Atherton girls (19-8) are still alive in the Division I girls' tourney and will take their No. 3 seed against No. 2 Mitty on Wednesday at Bellarmine Prep at 5:30 p.m. A victory will move the Bears into the finals against either No. 5 Leland or No. 1 Los Altos.
In the girls' Division II playoffs, No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (26-1) will face No. 4 Castilleja (18-8) in Wednesday's semifinals (5:30 p.m.) at Lynbrook, with the winner advancing to the finals against the St. Francis-Santa Cruz winner.
The Menlo-Atherton boys earned a shot at top-seed Salinas (21-3) in the semifinals on Tuesday after Salinas shocked defending champion Bellarmine, 9-8, and the Bears rallied for an 11-10 overtime win over Los Altos on Saturday.
Menlo-Atherton squeezed in by the barest of margins in its overtime win over Los Altos, rallying from a 5-3 halftime deficit and then charging back after trailing by 7-5 entering the fourth quarter.
The Bears scored four times in the final period with senior Matt Bogott scoring four of his seven goals during that time to force two three-minute overtime periods. Goalie Alex Popp also made OT possible with five of his 13 saves.
M-A's Simon Hood scored in the first overtime to deadlock the match again. Popp made his final save late in the second OT and M-A coach Johnny Bega called time to set up a play for Bogott with seven seconds to play. Bogott got a shot off, but it was blocked. Fortunately for the Bears, Kevin Lane grabbed the carom and fired it in just before the buzzer for the victory.
The Palo Alto boys matched up with SCVAL De Anza Division foe Mountain View and the results where the same as during the regular season as Paly produced a 9-6 win.
The Vikings had a big first quarter and led by 5-1. Senior Geng Wang and junior Tim Wenzlau each scored four goals while senior goalie Will Simon was solid once again with 10 blocks, two assists and two steals.
Paly faces No. 3 Leland (17-7) on Tuesday. The winner will advance to the CCS finals on Saturday at Independence High at 3:15 p.m.
In the boys' Division II playoffs, Menlo rolled over Carmel, 20-2, with nine Knights scoring. Junior James Balassone led the way with five goals while senior Toby Espinosa came up big with four. Gerrard Clark added three goals while Alex Avery scored twice with five steals and two assists.
Junior goalie Scott Platshon not only had nine saves, but his six assists triggered Menlo's effective counterattack.
If Menlo defeats No. 2 St. Francis on Tuesday, the Knights will reach the CCS championship game for an unprecedented 11th-straight time.
Said Menlo coach Jack Bowen: "Every year is new <0x2014> a new group of guys, a new game plan. But one thing remains the same and that's our team's goal to 'be your best.' This current team has accomplished this so far and this is the only goal that concerns us, year in and year out."
The Sacred Heart Prep boys cruised past Willow Glen, 15-1, with JV call ups Robert Dunlevie (three goals) and goalie Ben Dearborn (13 saves) leading the Gators, who were heavily favored to beat Burlingame in the semifinals.
In the girls' quarterfinals, Rebecca Dorst's five goals paced Menlo-Atherton to a 10-1 win over Woodside; Castilleja got six goals from Ericka von Kaeppler in a 14-3 win over Soquel, and Pallavi Menon scored five goals as Sacred Heart Prep swamped St. Ignatius, 20-3.
Top-seeded Menlo School (24-9) advanced to the CCS Division IV semifinals on Wednesday against No. 4 Notre Dame-Salinas (28-7) at Valley Christian-San Jose. The Knights polished off No. 8 Santa Catalina in Saturday's quarterfinals, 25-9, 26-24, 25-9.
In CCS Division V action, No. 3 Castilleja (25-6) and No. 4 Sacred Heart Prep (18-20) moved closer to the finals with sweeps on Saturday. Castilleja will play No. 2 St. Francis-Central Coast Catholic and SHP will take on No. 1 Mt. Madonna in Thursday's semifinals at Valley Christian.
In CCS Division II action, Palo Alto (27-11) and Gunn (25-8) were swept by No. 3 St. Francis and No. 4 Woodside, respectively, in quarterfinals last Saturday.