Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 14, 2012

Water polo teams will be busy

Local teams competing in three tournaments to get the season under way

by Keith Peters

Sacred Heart Prep water polo coaches Jon Burke and Brian Kreutzkamp probably won't be worried all that much about results from their respective tournament play this weekend.

Burke has his SHP girls competing in the St. Francis Invitational while Kreutzkamp has his boys in a tourney in Santa Barbara. Burke's squad went 2-2 last year while Kreuztkamp's team was 1-3 in 2011. Neither performance hurt.

The SHP girls went on to win a fifth straight Central Coast Section Division II title while the boys captured their fifth section crown while making a ninth straight appearance in the CCS finals.

The Menlo School boys, meanwhile, captured last year's Scott Roche Invitational but wound up falling in the CCS Division II semifinals.

All three perennial CCS powers will be busy this weekend in their respective 16-team, two-day tournaments that kick off the high school water polo season.

While the SHP boys will be facing many of the top SoCal teams, the SHP girls will be limited to facing some of the top NorCal squads like St. Francis (Mt. View and Sacramento), Clovis West, Leland, Davis and Menlo-Atherton.

Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo-Atherton will meet in the first round on Friday in the Gators' pool at 3:30 p.m. Palo Alto will face St. Francis (Sacramento) at the same time in the host Lancers' pool.

In the Roche Invitational, La Jolla is traveling from Southern California but the remainder of the entrants hail from the north — including De La Salle, Rio Americano, San Ramon Valley, Palo Alto and Menlo-Atherton.

Menlo (1-0) will host Mt. Carmel on Friday at noon while Palo Alto will host De La Salle at 1 p.m. Menlo-Atherton will play St. Mary's in the Vikings' pool at 3:45 p.m.

The Roche championship will be held Saturday at Menlo at 4:35 p.m., with the St. Francis title being decided in the Lancers' pool at 4 p.m.

Both SHP teams tuned up for the weekend by opening their respective West Catholic Athletic League seasons with impressive victories on Wednesday.

With senior Bret Hinrichs scoring four goals, the SHP boys also opened their season with a 16-4 season-opening victory over visiting St. Ignatius.

The Gators also got two goals apiece from Zach Churukian, Zoltan Lazar, Michael Swart, Alex Swart, Michael Holloway and Paly transfer Nelson Perla-Ward. Senior goalie Will Runkel was solid in the cage with 10 saves.

In girls' action, senior P.J. Bigley poured in four goals and junior Morgan McCracken added three to pace SHP to a 14-6 victory over host St. Ignatius in another WCAL opener. Senior Bridgette Harper, junior transfer Caitlin Stuewe and freshman Malaika Koshy all scored two goals while junior goalie Kelly Moran came up with 14 saves for the Gators (1-1), who next will compete in the St. Francis Invitational this weekend.

In other water polo action this week:

Gunn opened defense of its SCVAL De Anza Division title with a 10-3 victory over host Los Altos on Tuesday. After scoring 19 goals in four matches last weekend at the Acalanes North Coast Invitational, junior Caroline Anderson poured in five goals for the Titans (1-0, 5-2).

"It was a nice way to open the league season," said Gunn coach Mark Hernandez. "It was the first time, in a long time, that we've beaten Los Altos at Los Altos during the league season. They're always one of the top teams in the league, and it's nice to beat them — though, we know we still need to get better every day."

Despite returning only three players off last season's 21-7 squad that reached the CCS Division I semifinals before losing to eventual champ Leland, the Titans appear ready to defend their SCVAL title.

Gunn beat Los Altos last season at home to clinch the division crown, then topped the Eagles (also at Gunn) to win the playoff title. On Saturday, Gunn defeated Los Altos, 10-2, at the Acalanes tournament as a tuneup for Tuesday's showdown.

"This game was a grind for us," said Hernandez, who pointed out a 1-1 deadlock after one period and only a 4-1 lead at halftime. "We didn't convert on a lot of our shots in the first period, but the girls kept at it, and eventually we started shooting better. All the while, we played better and better defense."

Maggie Sockness added two goals for Gunn while Laura Hendricks, Bianca Batista and returnee Lauren Lesyna all scored once.

In boys' water polo this week:

Palo Alto opened its SCVAL De Anza Division season with an 11-4 victory over visiting Homestead on Tuesday night, but Gunn dropped a 13-10 division-opening match to host Los Altos.

Bret Pinsker paced Paly with five goals while Quinn Rockwell added three and Andrew Cho had two. Jake Weinstein had five saves in goals while Brent Schroeder allowed no goals for the Vikings, who gave first-year coach Brandon Johnson his first triumph.

In nonleague action, Morgan Olson Fabbro scored seven goals during a 14-12 overtime loss to visiting Bellarmine on Tuesday. Zach Deal and Harrison Holland-McCowan each added a pair of goals for the Bears (3-2).

Cross country

The Menlo-Atherton girls got three top-10 finishes and ran off with the title in Half Moon Bay at the first of three Peninsula Athletic League meets this season on Tuesday.

Junior Taylor Fortnam led the Bears with a second-place finish of 15:27 while M-A freshmen Annalisa Crowe (ninth in 15:59) and Maddie Worden (10th in 16:00) also contributed big time as the Bears (54 points) ran past Half Moon Bay (83) and Carlmont (96).

Junior Annika Roise (16th in 16:23) and freshman Katie Beebe (17th in 16:33) rounded out M-A's scoring. Fortnam was ninth in the Junior Girls' race at Saturday's Early Bird Invitational at Toro Park in Salinas.

In the boys' meet, Menlo-Atherton finished fourth. Zach Plante led the Bears by clocking 12:47 for 11th place. John Lovegren was 13th in 12:52 for M-A, which was missing standout George Baier (sprained ankle).

Girls' golf

Freshman Maddy Ellison's 7-over par 44 paced Sacred Heart Prep to an eight-shot shot victory over visiting Notre Dame-San Jose, 249-257, in West Bay Athletic League action on Wednesday at Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course. Jessica Koenig shot 49 and Emma Dake 51 for the Gators (2-0, 2-1).

Girls' tennis

With Alice Li, Stephanie Zhang and Apple XU all winning in singles, Gunn opened its SCVAL El Camino Division season with a 6-1 victory over visiting Fremont at Cubberley Community Center on Tuesday. The Titans improved to 3-3 overall before dropping a 4-3 nonleague decision to host Mountain View on Wednesday.

In other openers, host Palo Alto dropped a 6-1 decision to Saratoga in SCVAL De Anza Division action. Junior Felicia Wang produced Paly's only point, at No. 2 single, and Menlo-Atherton blanked host San Mateo, 7-0, to open the PAL Bay Division campaign. Erin LaPorte won at No. 1 singles for the Bears, 2-6, 6-0, 10-6.

Menlo-Atherton (2-0) returned to the courts on Wednesday and handed visiting Hillsdale a 6-1 loss.

During the weekend, Menlo School finished fourth in the tough California Classic on Friday and Saturday, compiling a 2-2 record against some of the top teams in the state while playing in 100-degree heat in the Fresno area.

The Knights (4-2) opened with a 4-3 win over San Ramon and followed that with a 4-3 triumph over Corona del Mar in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Menlo dropped a 5-2 decision to top-seeded Dana Hills. Playing for third place, the Knights fell to Santa Barbara, 4-3. Monta Vista (Cupertino) won the title by beating Dana Hills.

Senior Giannina Ong and junior Christine Eliazo won all four of their singles matches, Ong at No. 3 and Eliazo at No. 4, while sophomore teammate Liz Yao won three times at No. 2. The Menlo doubles teams, however, showed a weak spot while failing to win a single match.

At the Palo Alto Invitational, the host Vikings fashioned a 3-1 record and finished second.

Girls' volleyball

Palo Alto's young team continued to make improvement as junior Becca Raffel had 12 kills to help the Vikings defeat host Castilleja, 25-16, 25-20, 25-11, in nonleague action on Tuesday.

The visiting Vikings (6-2) also got 10 kills and eight digs from senior Shelby Knowles and 30 assists from fellow co-captain and senior Sophia Bono. Junior Bella Graves had six kills and junior Keri Gee provided 18 digs.

Castilleja (4-3) was led by senior Lucy Tashman's 15 kills and 21 digs. Sophomore Jennifer DiSanto added 17 digs and senior Hannah Hsieh provided 18 assists. Junior Nessica Norum finished with 15 digs for the Gators.

In San Mateo, senior Sonia Abuel-Saud produced 17 kills and 10 digs as Sacred Heart Prep rolled to a 25-15, 25-22, 25-17 nonleague triumph over San Mateo.

The Gators (8-1) also got six kills and three aces from senior Payton Smith and seven kills each from senior Ellie Shannon and sophomore Victoria Garrick. Senior Helen Gannon added 12 digs and sophomore setter Natalie Marshall finished with 22 assists.

The Gators will join Palo Alto and Gunn at the Harbor Invitational in Santa Cruz on Saturday.

In Portola Valley, junior Marine Hall-Poirier had 14 kills, three aces and hit .370 to pace Priory to a 25-13, 25-18, 25-15 nonleague victory over visiting Mills on Tuesday night. Briana Willhite added nine kills and hit .500 for the Panthers, who won the Laguna Blanca tournament in Santa Barbara on Saturday. Hall-Poirier was named MVP of the tourney and Willhite was named to the all-tournament team.

In Atherton, host Menlo-Atherton (0-2) ran up against a tough St. Francis squad and dropped a 23-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-20 nonleague decision.

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