|It's still early in the season, but the Sacred Heart Prep boys and Castilleja girls have surfaced as two of the top water polo teams in Northern California.
Both teams won their respective tournaments on Saturday, Sacred Heart Prep taking the prestigious John Schmittt Invitational and Castilleja winning the annual Fosdick Challenge.
Sacred Heart Prep (5-0), considered the early favorite to win the Central Coast Section Division II title this season, certainly lived up to its initial ranking at the Schmitt. The Gators defeated Campolindo in the quarterfinals on Saturday, 9-4, then edged Miramonte, 7-5, in the semifinals.
In the championship match, the Gators took on upstart Palo Alto, which upended defending champion Menlo School in the semifinals, 7-5. The loss for the Knights marked their first setback to a CCS opponent in two years. The previous loss came to Bellarmine (8-7) in this same tournament two years ago on the same day.
With Menlo out of the way, Sacred Heart had a solid shot at the title and earned it with a 7-3 win over the Vikings (4-1).
Paul Rudolph and Tim Norton each scored two goals in the finale for SHP while Will Simon had 12 saves for the Vikings. Norton tallied five goals in the win over Miramonte.
For Paly, its second-place finish was its best in this tournament in more than 15 years.
Before beating Menlo in the semifinals, Palo Alto topped SCVAL De Anza Division rival Los Altos, 5-3, in Saturday's first match.
"We might have run out of steam a little bit, but Sacred Heart is a great team and played very well," said Paly coach Reid Particelli.
Tim Wenzlau, Michael Fortune and Scott Mielke scored in the title match for Paly and Simon contributed 10 saves.
Menlo (3-2) wound up fourth after falling in back-to-back matches, the second to Miramonte, 10-5, in the third-place game.
At Castilleja, the Gators (4-0) followed up on Friday's 7-5 upset win over three-time defending CCS Division II champ Menlo with three straight wins in the Fosdick Challenge.
Castilleja opened with a 15-2 rout of Woodside, followed that with a 10-8 win over Drake and wrapped up the perfect weekend with a big 15-1 win over Presentation.
Junior Ericka von Kaeppler led Castilleja with nine goals in the three wins. Her sister, freshman Natasha, added six goals as did Kat Booher. Freshman goalie Evan Cranston had 15 saves.
Menlo (2-1) rebounded from Friday's loss to beat Drake, 5-4, and topple Presentation, 15-2.
Are you receiving Express, our free daily e-mail edition? See a sample and sign-up for Express.