Three lacrosse championship matches will be held Saturday. Right now, three local teams know who they'll be playing in the finals while two other squads have a pretty good idea, as well.
The Palo Alto girls will play Saratoga for the SCVAL crown at Paly at 10 a.m., after eliminating host St. Francis, 10-9. The Falcons, meanwhile, upset regular-season champ and top seed Gunn, 9-8.
And while the West Bay Athletic League playoffs are only in the semifinal stage on Thursday, look for No. 1 seed SHP and No. 2 Menlo School to reach Saturday's title match at Harker School (Saratoga campus) at 9 a.m.
SHP, which won the regular-season title in the SCVAL De Anza Division, advanced with a 17-10 romp over Menlo School on Wednesday on the Gators' field.
The Gators improved to 14-5 while the Knights fell to 14-6.
"I think we have been getting better," said Sacred Heart Prep head coach Chris Rotelli. "We showed a lot of fight and a lot of grit in the second half. I thought they brought great energy and we got those 50/50 possessions put a few in the back of the net."
SHP seniors Frankie Hattler and Sean Mayle combined for 12 goals and four assists to lead their team into title game. Will Kremer added three goals.
"Frankie put us on his back when we needed it," said Rotelli. "We were pressing a little bit at the beginning, but he settled everyone else down and scored some huge goals."
The Gators got off to a fast start in the first quarter when Hattler connected with Mayle and fired in a goal to put Sacred Heart up 4-1 to end the quarter.
The Knights were down by three when Colin Johnson slapped home a goal on an assist from Adam Yecies to make it a 7-5 lead for the Gators going into halftime.
Hattler scored his third goal of the quarter when he ran in for an unassisted score and increased the lead for the Gators, 11-7 after the third quarter.
"Once you beat your guy, the game slows down a bit it's about picking your spot and just hitting it," said Hattler.
Menlo was led by Jack Marren's three goals. Jack Ferguson and Johnson added two each. Hattler had seven goals to lead all scorers.
"We're confident in what we do," said Hattler. "We've worked hard all year long and we know on any given day we can bring it."
Sacred Heart Prep will face Menlo-Atherton for the third time during the league season, gaining a shot at revenge after losing to the Bears in the 2013 title match.
The Bears (12-9) won their fifth straight and defeated the only team to upend the Gators in league play this season. No other M-A details were provided.
In girls' lacrosse action:
For the second time in as many weeks, Palo Alto pulled off a dramatic mid-game comeback to beat perennial rival St. Francis, 10-9.
This time, the stakes were higher as the victory moved the Vikings (16-5) into the finals again.
In the final moments, St. Francis managed to score a free shot to tie it up 9-9 with 3:20 left to play. A minute later, a crease roll by Lauren Gargiulo catapulted the Vikings back into the lead, only to have that edge threatened by a free- shot opportunity given to St. Francis. But, Paly sophomore goalie Meredith Kinnaman made the tough save, one of nine during the match, to secure the triumph over the host Lancers.
The victory avenged a one-goal loss in triple overtime to the Lancers in last year's championship match.
St. Francis opened the match with a string of goals and led 6-3 at halftime. The Lancers pushed their lead to 8-3 with 16 left in the match before Paly mounted a comeback.
Maya Benetar, Ami Drez, Allie Peery, Liana Pickrell and Gargiulo all scored in succession to tie the match at 8. Meanwhile, Paly defenders Sama Rao, a senior, juniors Paige Anderson and Sarah McDonnell, and sophomore Reid Walters helped keep the Lancers away from the goal. At 9:30, another goal by Peery gave Paly the lead. Peery finished with four goals.
For six tense minutes, neither team scored until St. Francis evened the score at 9. Not for long. Two dramatic saves by Kinnaman, on free shots, and Gargiulo's second crease roll of the evening, sent the Vikings on course to the championship.
Palo Alto was expecting to face rival Gunn in the finals, but the Titans (15-3) saw their season end with the upset loss to Saratoga. No other details were provided.
Behind the stellar pitching of sophomore Davis Rich, who was making only his second start of the year, Menlo School advanced to the semifinals of the inaugural Peninsula Athletic League Tournament with a 5-4 victory over visiting Half Moon Bay.
Rich threw a complete game, allowing only one earned run on five hits while walking no one and striking out four. He needed only 80 pitches as Menlo improved to 15-12.
The Cougars (13-14) managed to take a 4-3 lead in the top of sixth when they scored three runs -- keyed by a key two-run triple. But, the Knights tied it in the bottom half of the frame and then won it in the seventh.
After a lead-off walk to Carson Gampell, John Bergeson lined a two-out single off the fence in left field to score pinch-runner Michael Shames, who had advanced to second on a ground ball.
Menlo will visit Capuchino, an upset winner over Carlmont, in the semifinals Thursday at 4 p.m. The winner advances to the PAL championship game on Friday at Half Moon Bay, also at 4 p.m.
Also reaching the semifinals was Menlo-Atherton, which bounced Aragon with a 6-5 victory. Senior Lawson Joos' perfectly executed squeeze bunt scored two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to carry the Bears to victory.
M-A's semifinal opponent will be Terra Nova, which defeated Sacred Heart Prep, 8-2, in another quarterfinal game. The Tigers will host the Bears on Thursday at 4 p.m.
After Aragon scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th, M-A (15-11-1) responded with a one-out rally to capture one of the most thrilling and exasperating games of the season.
Matt DeTrempe got things started in the bottom of the 10th by earning a walk. Charlie Cain followed with a single to center (his second hit of the game), and both base runners moved into scoring position on a balk. Aragon chose to walk Erik Amundson intentionally, loading the bases with one out. Joos then laid down a textbook squeeze bunt, scoring DeTrempe to tie the game. Cain never hesitated in rounding third base and scored the winning run when Aragon threw to first base to record the out on Joos. The return throw home was too late to nab Cain at the plate.
AJ Lemons earned the victory for M-A, pitching four innings of relief to improve his season record to 3-1. Lemons allowed just one run on four hits and two walks, striking out five. M-A starting pitcher Matt McGarry held Aragon to three earned runs over the first six innings, striking out nine, walking just one, and allowing five hits.
The Bears collected eight hits in the game, led by Amundson's 3-for-4 performance (including a double), with two walks and two runs scored. Cain had two hits and scored two runs, while Joos, Brett Moriarty (two RBI), and Jordan Long also had hits for M-A.
In many ways, it was a frustrating afternoon for M-A: the Bears left 12 runners on base, had four base runners picked off, and had another base runner (Matt DeTrempe) thrown out at the plate while trying to score the potential winning running in the bottom of the 6th inning. Aragon's first run scored on a balk by McGarry.
M-A persevered through it all, however, and was rewarded with its third walk-off win of the season.
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