Menlo-Atherton made a big move toward securing a high seed by pulling into a tie for second place with an important 10-7 victory over visiting Palo Alto on Tuesday.
The Bears (7-3, 14-4) now share second with Palo Alto (5-3, 8-5) with the regular season winding down.
The victory put M-A in position to secure the No. 2 seed in the division playoffs, depending on how both the Bears and Vikings finish up. M-A still has to play SHP to wrap up the regular season.
On Tuesday, the Bears pulled away from a 3-3 halftime deadlock, controlling the draws and at one point scoring three unanswered goals. Sophomore attack Duncan McGinnis scored four goals and added an assist to help spark the second-half comeback that saw the Bears outscore Paly in a crucial third period, 5-2.
"We were very flat in the first half, not much energy, a lot of standing around and watching, especially from our midfield lines," said M-A coach Steven Kryger. "Paly was clearly the aggressor and better team in the first half. Paly moves the vall very well and finds the open man almost every time. The score could have been a lot worse for us at halftime. We were very fortunate to be tied.
"In the second half, all phases our our game came alive. Our midfielders were moving both with the ball and, most importantly, moving off the ball, setting lots of screens. The midfielders were also getting back on defense and swarming the ground balls much better than in the first half. Our attack made crisp passes, as evidenced by the seven assists from our starting attackman."
M-A junior attack Kotaro Kihira provided five assists and one goal while sophomore Nick Schlein and junior Drew Uphoff each added two goals.
Kryger said two standout plays helped make the difference in the second half. The first was by Kihira in the third quarter while M-A was subbing its whole midline and essentially were playing 3 on 6 at the offensive end. Kihira dodged from behind the cage, beat his man and scored.
Uphoff made the second big play, coming in the fourth quarter. At the end of a man-up play and with a sixth Paly defender running onto the field, Uphoff beat his man from behind and plowed right through the defenseman for the score.
"Both of those plays played pivotal roles in the psyche of our team," Kryger said.
The Bears grabbed an 8-5 lead after three goals and then kept the Vikings in check in the final period as Paly's final goal came in the last minute of play.
Jonny Glazier led Paly with three goals and one assist with teammates Lukas Peterson, Jordan Gans, Chris Hoglund and Josh Stern each adding one goal. William Hare provided two assists.
Elsewhere in boys' lacrosse on Tuesday:
Sacred Heart Prep took a break from its chase for the SCVAL De Anza Division title and took on perennial power Bellarmine in a nonleague match. The host Bells (13-7) proved too tough while recording a 13-5 decision.
The Gators (10-3) fell behind at halftime, 7-3, and never could recover. Franki Hattler scored three goals and Austin Appleton had 12 saves for the Gators. Nick Kawasaki and Trevor Ruegg also scored for SHP while Hattler and Sean Mayle provided assists.
The Gators hold a two-game lead over Menlo-Atherton and Palo Alto, needing only a win over Mountain View (Thursday) to clinch no worse than a tie for the division title. With that accomplished, SHP can win its first-ever league title by beating Burlingame on Saturday on the Gators' field at 10 a.m.
In Larkspur, Menlo School engaged in a tug-of-war with host Redwood, eventually falling by a 13-12 tally. The Knights (7-9) scored with 39 seconds left to narrow the lead to one, but the Giants held on for the win.
Goalie Luc McNally logged 15 saves for Menlo while Nick Schultz poured in six goals and had an assist. Wiley Osborne recorded two goals, five assists and four ground balls. Ryan Grzejka added two more goals.
Menlo School successfully defended its West Bay Athletic League title with a 196-231 victory over King's Academy on Wednesday at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club. The Knights finished 9-1.
Senior Will Petit played the No. 1 spot for Menlo on Senior Day and shot a 41 with birdies on the par-3 second hole and par-5 seventh hole. Senior Jackson Dean shot a 38 in the second spot for Menlo and fired five pars and a birdie on holes 4 through 8.
Junior Andrew Buchanan earned medalist honors by shooting a 1- under-par 34. Freshman Ethan Wong shot a 39 with six pars and Junior Max Garnick started slowly at 6- over after three holes but rallied to shoot 3-over on the last six holes.
In another WBAL season-ending match, Sacred Heart Prep sophomore Bradley Knox made his third birdie of the round on the par-5 ninth hole to wrap up a 1-under-par 35 and lead Gators to a 196-203 win over Pinewood at Palo Alto Muni.
SHP, which finished second at 8-2, also got a strong showing from senior Zach Lamb (38).
Next up for the Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo will be the WBAL Championships next Wednesday at San Juan Oaks in Hollister. The top team and top three individuals from the league tournament will advance to the CCS Regionals at Rancho Cañada the week of May 8th.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto wrapped up the division title by defeating rival Gunn, 193-196, at Palo Alto Muni to improve to 11-1. Freshman Alex Hwang led the Vikings with a 37. Gunn finished 9-3, needing a victory to force a tie for the title.
The top four golfers from each team were within a stroke of each other, with Palo Alto holding a four-stroke lead and the final group approaching the ninth hole. Paly's Annie Chen, from approximately 125 yards out, hit a beautiful shot within two feet of the hole. She made her putt for a 42 and put the finishing touches on a championship day while members of both teams applauded.
With Brooke Bullington scoring five goals and adding two assists, Menlo School moved closer to clinching the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) title with a dominating 21-5 victory over visiting Sacred Heart Prep on Tuesday.
The Knights (7-0, 10-4) won their seventh straight by grabbing an 18-3 halftime lead and coasting from there. Junior Michaela Michael added four goals and one assist, giving her 103 goals and 22 assists this season.
Menlo seniors Sophie Sheeline and Kacie Madeira added three goals each while senior teammate Elyse Adler contributed four assists. Caroline Cummings and Melissa Holland each scored twice for the Gators (3-4, 7-6).
Menlo is now ranked No. 9 in the entire West Region (of 354 teams in eight states) behind St. Ignatius (No. 8) and Carondelet (No. 4), according to laxpower.com. In California, Menlo is currently No. 7 (behind No. 6 St. Ignatius, and No. 3 Carondelet) and is No. 3 among NorCal teams.
In Burlingame, Castilleja dropped a 15-12 WBAL Foothill Division match to the host Panthers. The Gators (3-4, 8-4) were led by junior Katherine Hobbs (five goals) and senior Martha Harding (four goals). Lou Biffar, Ellie Zales and Charlotte Jones each tallied one goal while sophomore goalie Rebecca Merenbach made eight saves.
In San Francisco, Menlo-Atherton (4-3, 6-5) romped to a 24-5 victory over host Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Castilleja remained in the hunt for a possible title in the WBAL Foothill Division following a 10-0 five-inning victory over visiting Alma Heights on Tuesday.
The Gators (5-2, 7-14) are in a second-place tie with Harker (5-2), trailing both Mercy-Burlingame (6-1) and Notre Dame-San Jose (6-1) with five games to play. Castilleja still has games remaining against the first-place teams. Only the top two teams qualify for the Central Coast Section playoffs.
Aryana Yee and Sarah Shore each had three hits for Castilleja with Sarah Hinstorff and Callie Brown each driving in two runs to support Yee's one-hit pitching gem that included 10 strikeouts.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn's title hopes took a hit following a 3-2 loss to visiting Mountain View on Tuesday. The Titans fell to 5-2 in league (7-8 overall) after giving up three runs in the top of the seventh to the Spartans (3-6, 6-13).
Junior pitcher Claire Klausner (7-2) suffered a rare loss despite helping herself with two hits and two RBI.
The Sacred Heart Prep boys and girls finished off a third straight unbeaten dual-meet season in the WBAL as each team won a double dual over King's Academy and host Harker on Wednesday.
Getting a pair of victories from sophomore Ally Howe in the 200 free (1:52.15) and 100 back (55.59), the SHP girls defeated Harker, 100-70, and King's Academy, 92-78, to finish 10-0.
In the boys' competition, SHP's Tom Kremer ripped off a 1:41.50 win in the 200 free and anchored the 400 free relay to victory in 3:19.90 as the Gators beat Harker, 111-58, and topped King's Academy, 104.5-62.5.
Sacred Heart Prep will host the WBAL Championships on May 4, beginning at 4 p.m.
Menlo School swept the WBAL singles and doubles championships on the second day of the league's individual tournament at Menlo.
Knights' freshman Victor Pham defeated Sacred Heart Prep's Nick Pizzuti, 6-2, 6-2, in the singles finals. Pham had blanked Sacred Heart Prep's Cameron Kirkpatrick, 6-0, 6-0, in the semifinals, and Pizzuti had topped Graham Keystone of Crystal Springs, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, in the other semifinal.
In doubles, Menlo's duo of juniors Michael Hoffman and William Boyd took a 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory over Harker's Derek Tzeng and Chris Chang to earn the crown.
Menlo (21-0) awaits the draw at Monday's Central Coast Section seeding meeting. The Knights are the defending champs and will be looking for an unprecedented 11th section crown.
At the PAL Individual Tournament at Burlingame, Menlo-Atherton's tandem of seniors Matt Giordano and Zeke Brown earned a shot at defending their doubles title by posting a 6-3, 6-0 victory in the semifinals. The Bears' duo won their quarterfinal match, 6-3, 6-0.
M-A sophomore Nick Fratt was beaten in the singles semifinals, 6-4, 6-2. Teammate Richie Sarwal lost in the quarterfinals.
Pat Bruni produced 14 kills and Justin Morris had 21 assists to pace Sacred Heart Prep to a 25-16, 26-24, 17-25, 25-22 victory over host Wilcox in a SCVAL El Camino Division match on Wednesday.
Ian Bennett added 12 kills and 12 assists while Austin Baloff had seven blocks and six kills for the Gators (5-4, 7-7).