Sports

Sacred Heart Prep boys turn to defense for another CCS title

By Keith Peters

Palo Alto Online

Brian Kreutzkamp had been battling illness this past week, along with a handful of his players on the Sacred Heart Prep boys' water polo team. The last thing Kreutzkamp needed to do on a cold day was jump into a swimming pool.

But, that comes with the job when your team wins a Central Coast Section Division II championship, which is exactly what the Gators did on Saturday with a 7-4 victory over Los Altos at Independence High in San Jose.

The title for the top-seeded Gators (19-10) was the fifth in program history and the team's fourth in the past five years. Sacred Heart has now appeared in nine straight championship games since winning its first title in 2003.

Third-seeded Los Altos (20-6), meanwhile, was making its fourth appearance ever in the title match and the first since 2001. The Eagles are 0-4 in finales.

Los Altos, which eliminated defending champion Menlo School in the semifinals, appeared to have a decent shot at upending Sacred Heart Prep -- given the Gators' recent illnesses and semifinal results.

"It's been quite a week," said Kreutzkamp. "Against Soquel (in the semifinals), it was our worst defensive game of the year as we gave up the most goals (13) of the season. Today, we played our best defensive game of the year, giving up the fewest goals of the year."

A big reason for the standout defensive effort by SHP was junior goalie Will Runkel, who was credited with 17 saves.

"When he (Runkel) plays that well, we're hard to stop," Kreutzkamp said.

Runkel set the tone early after SHP junior Michael Holloway scored the first of his game-high three goals and senior Kyle Koenig added another for a 2-0 lead. Runkel blocked a shot during a Los Altos 6-on-5 situation, blocked a shot during a one-on-one and then blocked a point-blank shot.

When Holloway scored again on a 6-on-5, the Gators held a 3-0 first-quarter lead. The Eagles battled back to tie at 3 on goals by Adam Warmoth, Ian McColl and the first of two by Kevin Stangl.

SHP sophomore Harrison Enright made it a 4-3 game on another 6-on-5 goal with 1:22 left in the third quarter. When Los Altos lost its big 2-meter man, Matt Orton, to his third ejection early in the fourth quarter, the Gators took advantage of the 6-on-5 with Holloway scoring for a 5-3 lead.

SHP junior Bret Hinrichs scored a pair of fourth-quarter goals to hold off the Eagles, who got only one goal combined from its top scoring tandem of Warmoth and Orton.

Kreutzkamp said the difference between giving up 13 goals to Soquel and four to Los Altos was returning to its normal style of play.

"Against Soquel, we were leaving too early (on a counter-attack) and not staying true to our game," said Kreutzkamp, whose team played more conservatively on Saturday.

"At halftime, I got a feeling for the game and realized it was going to be a defensive battle," Kreutzkamp said.

Neither team allowed the other to break away on the counter, thus the match turned into a halfcourt type of of game with each squad trying to earn kickouts and 6-on-5 advantages. The Gators wound up scoring five goals on man-up advantages.

"I'm comfortable with that," Kreutzkamp said of playing a half court game. "I knew we could get six to eight goals if we slowed it down. If we get out and counter-attack, we can get 10 or more."

While the Gators finished with 10 losses this season, their most while reaching a CCS final, Kreutzkamp was more than pleased with how the season turned out.

"We started two seniors," he said of Koenig and Max McKelvy. "They exceeded my expectations. Our goal was to get through league and get to this game."

The championship? It was just icing on the cake.

,

Comments

Posted by Member, a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 20, 2011 at 8:09 am

Los Altos robbed again. Should have gone to LA. Why do you think they're 0-4 in the finals? They're good enough to win but everyone always gives it to Menlo or SHP when they play the finals. Those are the only teams LA has lost to in finals. Keep fighting the forces LA!


Posted by Jon Wiener, a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I hate to disagree with a fan, but Los Altos has never played SHP in the finals before this year. SHP did beat Los Altos in the semis in 2003 and 2005, when I was coaching. Los Altos lost to Menlo in the finals in 2000 and 2001, and to Bellarmine in 1987.


Posted by Member, a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Everyone besides Los Altos is evil. And yes, Mr. Wiener, LA lost to SHP in the finals (this year) which is what I wrote. Didn't know about the Bellarmine loss, thanks for that. And then also losses to Menlo and Bellermine. They're 0-4 in the finals and they should have won at least one but everyone helps the other teams win. I know Los Altos is a really rich area but still we have all the odds against us all the time.


Posted by Polo Fan, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Both LA and SHP had equal chances to win. The Gators had a good game plan, a great goalie and jumped out to a lead. LA had to play catchup and ended up losing one of its top players to fouls. Pure and simple, the best team won in a close game. SHP has won CCS five times and Los Altos has yet to win. When you've been in the finals as many times as the Gators, it does make a big difference. Los Altos will have its day. Perhaps.


Posted by Member, a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Yes, "Polo Fan," that's the point. SHP has now won CCS 5 times. Menlo has won at least that many times and then Bellarmine has won even more. They should give it to Los Altos. The system is biased and rigged. Ask anyone from Los Altos. We don't have the pools and stuff that they have (well, except Menlo) and we don't have the political pull that they have so they always get the wins. Give it to Los Altos at least 1 time.


Posted by Polo Fan, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 22, 2011 at 11:30 am

I think the Los Altos players would agree that earning it would be better. The system is biased and rigged? Los Altos doesn't have the pools? That's not the case and everyone knows it. And, there is nothing political about it. It's athletes against athletes.


Posted by Member, a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 23, 2011 at 10:24 am

Well, if you just go to our facebook fan page, you'll see that we really do just want one championship. We primarily make fun of other programs on this page to show how evil they are. Give LA a championship and we'll back down a little.


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