By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
The Sacred Heart Prep girls' lacrosse team had everything going in its favor as it headed into Tuesday's showdown with host Menlo School.
The Gators were undefeated in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) at 5-0 and were 11-0 overall, in addition to being ranked among the best teams in the state and West Region by laxpower.com.
If ever there was a time to take down the defending champion Knights, it was Tuesday.
The Gators, however, lost out on a great opportunity as the Knights pulled away from a close first half to post a 13-6 triumph.
"It was huge," Menlo coach Jen Lee said of the victory. "It was a measuring stick for us; we proved our mettle."
Menlo took over sole possession of first place at 5-0 while improving to 6-6 overall. The Knights are also 55-0 in league play since their last league loss, to Menlo-Atherton, in April of 2007.
The Knights also moved ahead of the Gators in the West Region rankings at No. 3 while SHP fell to No. 4. Amador Valley and Carondelet rank No. 1 and 2, respectively. Those top four also make up the state leaders.
Moreover, Menlo still hasn't suffered a loss to SHP since the teams began their rivalry.
Tuesday's match seemed a perfect time for that to happen as the Gators trailed by only 6-4 at halftime. Menlo, however, turned up the level on its aggressive play in the second half and contested everything.
The Knights also went on a 5-0 run in less than 10 minutes to open the second half and an 11-4 lead. Senior Ali Kim scored twice, followed by junior Alyssa Sherman, freshman Parvathi Narayan and senior Sam Hoag.
Sherman added a second goal with 11:44 left to play as Menlo completed a 6-0 run in less than 14 minutes.
Sacred Heart Prep didn't score its first goal in the second half until freshman Libby Muir found the net with 10:41 remaining. The Gators' Brigid White, who scored three times in the first half, managed just one goal in the second -- with 2:50 left to play.
Menlo's defense was that outstanding as Iman Salty, Annaliese Yukawa, freshman Chelsea Sahami, Lizzy Lacy and Sherman helped shut down the Gators' offense. Normally high-scoring Caroline Cummings was held scoreless.
Menlo senior Brooke Bullington led the victory with four goals and four assists while Kim and Narayan each tallied three times. The two combined for seven of Menlo's 10 draw controls and four of the team's seven takeaways.
Senior goalie Hannah Rubin made her first appearance of the season after sitting out with a knee injury suffered during soccer season. She came up with five big saves while anchoring the defense.
SHP goalie Emily Westerfield also was solid with nine saves.
Next up for Menlo will be a match at Menlo-Atherton on Friday (4 p.m.) and a nonconference test at Palo Alto on Saturday (5 p.m.) Paly is currently No. 10 in the West Region.
Menlo-Atherton improved to 1-4 in league (3-9-1 overall) with a 22-5 win over host Sacred Heart Cathedral. The Bears grabbed an 8-0 lead as Emily Carlson scored all four of her goals and Meredith Geaghan-Breiner added three. Madison Frame also tallied three times for M-A as did Cybele Reed.
In the SCVAL, Gunn (6-2, 8-3-1) posted a 12-4 victory over host Pioneer while winning its fourth straight.
Despite playing in windy conditions and putting on greens that had just been sanded and punched, Menlo School overcame the tough conditions and posted a 197-244 dual-match victory over host Crystal Springs at Burlingame Country Club on Tuesday.
The Knights held on to first place in the West Bay Athletic League race at 7-0 (7-2 overall) as senior Andrew Buchanan earned medalist honors with a 1-under 35. All the Knights were playing the course for only the first time.
Sacred Heart Prep got a last-second goal from Brian White and posted a 14-13 victory over visiting Palo Alto in SCVAL action. White scooped up a loose ball and found the net with just two seconds to play as the Gators improved to 7-2 in league (9-8 overall). Paly fell to 4-4 and 9-5.
Frankie Hattler and Noah Kawasaki tallied four goals each for SHP with freshman Andrew Daschbach adding three. Backup goalie Jack Wise had seven saves, as starter Austin Appleton had to leave the match after aggravating an injury suffered during a loss to Redwood on Saturday.
SHP will host Menlo on Friday (4 p.m.). The Knights host first-place Menlo-Atherton (8-0, 11-5) on Wednesday.
Menlo School rallied three times before finally pulling out a 12-11 victory in eight innings over visiting King's Academy in WBAL action Tuesday. The Knights improved to 4-3 in league and 7-4 overall. Harker sits atop the league with a 5-0 mark.
Malia Bates tied the game three times for Menlo, while getting two hits and two RBI. Teammate Priya Medberry had three hits and three RBI to support winning pitcher Kelly McConnell.
Menlo scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth when McConnell reached second base and scored when Amanda McFarland's ground ball to short was misplayed for an error.
Menlo-Atherton clinched its fifth straight PAL Bay Division regular-season title and earned an automatic berth into the Central Coast Section playoffs with a 6-1 victory over host Woodside on Tuesday. Second-place Aragon, meanwhile, dropped a 7-0 decision to host Carlmont.
The Bears improved to 12-1 in league (18-2 overall) with just a home match against El Camino remaining on Thursday at 4 p.m. Aragon fell to 10-3.
Freshman Reed Fratt led the Bears at No. 1 singles with a 6-3, 6-3 victory with Saul Menjivar posting a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 2. Richie Sarwal returned to the lineup following a brief absence and contributed a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 3.
In doubles, Alex Iyer and Danny LaPorte continued their recent win streak -- the duo won four straight matches last week -- by posting a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 1.
Just a few miles away, host Menlo School wrapped up its 17th straight league title in coach Bill Shine's 17 years with a 6-1 win over Pinewood.
The Knights improved to 11-0 in league, 18-1 overall and now have won 192 consecutive league matches under Shine. The Menlo seniors, meanwhile, improved to 100-2 in their careers.
Track and field
The Palo Alto boys and girls set the stage for possible title-clinching wins next week by sweeping host Milpitas on a windy Tuesday. The boys won, 71-56, while the girls prevails, 88-33.
Nick Sullivan won the 400 (50.89) and 200 (23.13) in addition to running on the Vikings' winning 400 relay. Paly, which has been running consistently under 44.00 this season, managed only a pedestrian 45.58, a testament to the windy conditions.
Grant Shorin added victories in the long jump (20-5 1/4) and high jump (6-0) as Paly improved to 5-0.
The Palo Alto girls also moved to 5-0 as Audrey DeBruine swept the 1600 (5:29.40) and 800 (2:25.07) to help lead the way. Charlotte Alipate added victories in the shot put (321-4 1/2) and discus (101-3) while Katie Foug took the 3200 (12:15.65) and triple jump (31-2) for another double win.
Both Palo Alto teams will see their respective SCVAL De Anza Division dual-meet titles against host Gunn on April 25.