By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
Senior Day took on a special meaning for the graduating class of the Gunn High girls' water polo team on Thursday as the Titans accomplished a rare feat and grabbed some momentum for the postseason.
When Gunn coach Mark Hernandez honored his nine seniors during a halftime ceremony, little did he realize that four of them would help lead the Titans to a big 10-8 victory over visiting Los Altos.
The victory gave Gunn (11-1, 18-6) a co-championship in the SCVAL De Anza Division with the Eagles (11-1, 16-5) and the Titans' first win over Los Altos since the 2009 league tournament. The official division champ won't be crowned until next weekend's tournament finale at Monta Vista.
"It was a fun last game, having it close and winning it," said Gunn senior Elizabeth Anderson, who scored five goals -- including the winner. "I like winning."
Fellow senior Missy Barr added three goals, skipping her final goal under the goalie's hands to tie the match at 7 with 2:38 remaining in the match. Los Altos countered quickly with Katy Schaefer scoring just four seconds later for an 8-7 lead, but Anderson got behind the Eagles' defense to score the winner with 1:50 left and an insurance goal with 1:27 to play.
"We definitely knew we needed goals and to get more people on offense," Anderson said of those final moments, when she remained on the offensive side of the pool to force Los Altos to play 6-on-5 or 5-on-5. "We'd rather have a 1-on-1 with me on one person."
Added Hernandez: "We wanted to create a 1-on-1 somehow. If it's someone who can guard her, they need her on offense. (Otherwise) They can't handle her (Anderson) 1 on 1."
Los Altos did its best early to handle the high-scoring Anderson, who has 115 goals this season. Sometimes, however, that left Barr open and she converted. The Titans also took advantage of their 6-on-5s while the Eagles didn't.
Yet another plus for Gunn were seniors Katie Rose Skelly and Casey Lincoln. Skelly came up with some big stops in goal and made long outlet passes to trigger Gunn's counter-attack. Lincoln also was a fixture on defense, helping shut down Schaefer and limit her to just one goal. Carrie Beyer led the Eagles with three.
Lincoln, a top swimmer, has missed some matches while on recruiting trips. She was gone when Gunn dropped a 6-5 overtime decision to the Eagles in their first meeting. This time her presence was felt.
"We were confident in our chances," Hernandez said. "Last time we faced them, we held them to four goals in regulation.
"And, we've been playing better. There were some missed opportunities, but we defended well. This was the best game we've played all season."
Senior Soumya Kannan and junior Lauren Lesyna also contributed at both ends of the pool as the Titans grabbed valuable momentum for next week's league tournament and the upcoming Central Coast Section playoffs, where Gunn has to be considered among the top teams in Division I.
In another SCVAL De Anza Division match, senior Skylar Dorosin scored seven goals to pace Palo Alto to a 13-5 victory over host Homestead on Thursday. Shannon Scheel and Hannah Park each added two goals for the Vikings (6-5 in league). Emma Wolfe and Martine LeClerc each tallied a single goal for Paly (12-9 overall), which will participate in the SCVAL De Anza Division playoffs next week.
Boys' water polo
Gunn played first-place Los Altos tough before finally dropping a 13-10 decision in SCVAL De Anza Division action Thursday night in the Titans' pool.
Gunn was in it through three quarters before the unbeaten Eagles finally pulled away with five goals in the fourth quarter. The Titans held a 3-2 lead after one period with the match tied a 5 at halftime. Coby Wayne led the Titans with three goals with Ari Wayne, Gavin Kerr and Michael Znidarsic adding two goals each. Goalie Harrison Waschura was solid once again in the cage after having 20 stops in Tuesday's 5-3 win over Paly.
In the PAL Bay Division, first-place Menlo (4-0, 14-5) got five goals from Nick Hale and four from Micah Rosales in a 20-5 swamping of host Woodside on Thursday. Johnny Wilson added three goals and Gavin Avery had two, as did Brad Haaland. Menlo grabbed a 9-1 first-quarter lead and coasted from there.
In the PAL Ocean Division, Eric Turnquist had two goals as Priory (2-8, 3-14) dropped a 15-5 decision to visiting Terra Nova.