Uploaded: Wednesday, October 3, 2012, 8:23 AM
Gunn girls grab control of water polo race
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|By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
Heading into this season, Palo Alto had dominated its series with rival Gunn in girls' water polo. Since 2002, the Vikings had won 10 of 14 meetings.
Since Mark Hernandez took control of Gunn's program in 2009, however, the tide has turned. The Titans now have won five of the past seven meetings following Tuesday's 6-4 victory over the host Vikings in SCVAL De Anza Division action.
"Defense helps," said Hernandez.
The Titans scored a bunch of goals last season on their way to winning their first-ever SCVAL De Anza Division regular-season and playoff titles. This season is different.
"That's what so fun about coaching high school," said Hernandez. "You get (and have) to re-invent yourself every year. This year, for example, we may not have the firepower we've had in the past years -- we lost three of our top four goal-scorers from last year, including Elizabeth Anderson -- but we're re-defining ourselves as a defensive-minded team."
Gunn turned in a fine defensive effort against Palo Alto while getting its most balanced scoring effort of the season. As a result, the Titans (10-3 overall) remain atop the SCVAL De Anza Division race with a 6-0 mark at the halfway point of the regular season while the Vikings (4-2, 8-7) fall to third place.
Palo Alto did win a battle, holding Gunn scoring leader Caroline Anderson to just one goal. The Titans, however, got solo goals from Lauren Lesyna, Maggie Sockness, Emily Fitzgerald and Erica Watkins -- plus a goal from Paly -- in pulling out the important victory.
The own goal came in the fourth quarter with Gunn holding a 4-2 lead. Anderson had the ball in front of the Paly cage, before it got knocked loose and then inadvertently swept into the cage by the Paly goalie.
The Vikings bounced back and made it 5-3 on Martine LeClerc's second goal, but Watkins provided some insurance with a goal from outside with 2:45 left. Paly's Tara Lawrence found the cage with 2:25 to play for a 6-4 match, but Gunn's defense stiffened and controlled play the rest of the way.
Paly did a good job of limiting Anderson's offense by double-teaming the junior nearly every time she touched the ball. Lesyna also drew attention from two of three Paly defenders at the 2-meter position, forcing other Titans to step up. Fortunately for Hernandez, he got just enough.
Defensively, Gunn tried to force Paly to shoot from the outside and was successful to a point -- LeClerc got her goal from way outside after finding herself unguarded. That tied the match at 2 in the second quarter. It remained that way until Anderson scored her only goal with 3:34 left in the third period. The Titans pulled away from there.
In Atherton, host Sacred Heart Prep got 10 goalie saves from Kelly Moran and a pair of goals from Caitlin Stuewe in a 7-3 nonleague win over visiting Castilleja. SHP (9-4) grabbed a 5-1 halftime lead, blanking the visitors in the first and third periods. Anna Yu tallied a pair of goals for Castilleja (5-4).
Also in Atherton, Kaelen Dunn scored five goals and Audrey Flower added four, but it still wasn't enough as host Menlo School dropped a 12-10 decision to Mercy-Burlingame in PAL Ocean Division play. The Knights (4-2, 5-5) fell behind by 7-2 at halftime before putting on a late rally that fell short.
Boys' water polo
With senior Bret Pinsker scoring five goals, host Palo Alto handed rival Gunn a 17-7 defeat in SCVAL De Anza Division action.
The Vikings (4-2, 10-4), coming off a 4-0 finish in the lower division of the NCS vs. CCS Challenge last weekend, pulled away from a one-goal advantage after one quarter with six goals in the second period to grab a 9-3 halftime advantage.
Senior Quinn Rockwell added three goals while seniors Nolan Perla-Ward and Brian Berry added two goals each. Coby Wayne and Spencer Miner each tallied two goals to pace the Titans.
In Belmont, Nick Bisconti scored six goals as Menlo School opened its PAL Bay Division season with a 19-4 victory over host Carlmont. Every field player for the Knights (8-4) scored a goal. In addition, 11 players added assists and 11 players had steals, with Alexander Carlisle leading the team with four.
In Redwood City, Kyle Walden scored five goals for Priory in a 16-9 loss to host Sequoia in a PAL Ocean Division match. Mike Schembri and Will Xu each added two goals for the Panthers (0-6), who led by 3-1 after one quarter and were tied at the half, 5-5, before the Cherokees pulled away.
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