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Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - November 15, 2013

Gunn boys, girls make some history

Water polo teams reach the CCS playoffs together for the first time

by Keith Peters

For the first time in school history, the Gunn boys and girls will head into the Central Coast Section water polo playoffs together as league champions.

Both teams earned that distinction on Saturday as they captured their respective SCVAL De Anza Division playoff titles to wrap up the division's overall crown.

The Gunn girls avenged their only loss of the league season with a resounding 13-2 dunking of Los Gatos while the boys held off rival Palo Alto for a third time this season with their 9-5 triumph.

The Gunn boys won the regular-season title with a 12-0 record, the first team in program history to go undefeated with that many wins. The Titans last won a league title in 2005, when Johnson played goalie for Gunn.

Palo Alto will get a chance to avenge that loss and beat Gunn for the first time this season when the rivals meet Saturday in the second round of the CCS Division I playoffs at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose at 2:30 p.m.

Palo Alto advanced to the quarterfinals with a solid 16-7 win over No. 12-seeded Pioneer on Tuesday night.

The No. 5-seeded Vikings (23-5) got three goals each from Winston Rosati and Lucas Novak as eight players scored and every member of the team played. Matt Abbott, Andrew Josefov, Kian McHugh and frosh-soph call-up Justyn Cheung all added two goals each for Paly.

Fourth-seeded Gunn (20-6) is in the midst of its first 20-win season since 2005. The Titans last won a CCS title in 1995. Palo Alto last captured a section crown in 1997.

The Gunn girls (20-6) were seeded No. 2 in Division I and will open CCS action Saturday at home against No. 7 Pioneer (21-6) at 10 a.m. The Titans should be riding plenty of momentum after dominating Los Gatos, a team Gunn could face in the semifinals next week.

"This was the game we knew we could play," said Gunn coach Mark Hernanez. "From the outset, the team was on a mission, and played with a speed and an intensity that put Los Gatos on their heels. This was our best defensive effort of the year."

Gunn senior Caroline Anderson tallied eight goals and added two assists in yet another standout offensive effort.

Also playing at Gunn on Saturday is No. 4 Menlo-Atherton (16-8), which opens against No. 5 Mitty (15-7) at 11:30 a.m.

The Division II brackets are highlighted by the defending champion Sacred Heart Prep boys and girls.

The SHP boys (23-3) are the No. 1 seed and rightfully so. The Gators captured the West Catholic Athletic League regular-season and playoff title, the latter coming Saturday night in a 12-8 win over Bellarmine as junior Michael Swart tallied four goals and fellow juniors Will Conner and Nelson Perla-Ward added three each. Goalie Philippe Marco had 10 saves.

SHP opens its title defense Saturday at Valley Christian against No. 9 Santa Cruz (17-8) at 1 p.m. Second-seeded Menlo School (21-3) will take on No. 7 Saratoga (23-2) at 11:30 a.m.

In the girls' Division II bracket, six-time defending champ Sacred Heart Prep (19-7) opens Saturday at Christopher School in Gilroy against No. 8 Santa Catalina (15-5) at 9:30 a.m. At the same site, No. 3 Castilleja (12-7) takes on No. 11 Sobrato (20-6) at 12:30 p.m.

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