Paly girls will play
for SCVAL crown while
Menlo girls seek to defend
The Palo Alto girls' lacrosse team will play for the first-ever Santa Clara Valley Athletic League championship, get a chance at revenge, and do it all on its home field Saturday after advancing to the finals with an 11-8 victory over visiting Pioneer on Wednesday.
The top-seeded Vikings (15-4) will host No. 3 St. Francis in the title match at 11 a.m. The Lancers advanced with a 17-10 victory over No. 2 Los Gatos in the other semifinal.
Palo Alto and St. Francis have split their league matches this season, but the Lancers won the last meeting, on their field, by one goal.
The Vikings had a good tuneup for the finale by jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the first half. Kimmie Flather, Charlotte Biffar and Brianna Boyd all scored three goals while Emily Benatar and Emily Fowler each had a goal and an assist.
The West Bay Athletic League semifinals were played Thursday with top-seeded Menlo hosting Castilleja and No. 2 Sacred Heart Prep hosting Burlingame. The winners will advance to the championship game on Saturday at Palo Alto High at 9 a.m.
The boys' SCVAL championship match also is scheduled for Saturday at Paly, starting at 1 p.m.
In the girls' WBAL quarterfinals on Tuesday, Castilleja held off Menlo-Atherton for the second time in back-to-back matches, but the latest triumph proved to be the most important as the Gators advanced to the semifinals with a 17-16 victory.
The previous meeting between the teams resulted in an 18-16 win by Castilleja, which earned the Gators the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
Stephanie Merenbach scored five goals and added three assists for the Gators (6-7) while Martha Harding had six goals and one assist in the high-scoring affair. Neli Jasuja added four to Castilleja's total. Christina Rodgers and Becca Higgitt each scored three times for the Bears.
Castilleja saw its winning streak end and most likely a shot at an undisputed softball title in the WBAL following a 2-1 loss in eight innings to host Mercy-Burlingame on Wednesday. The Gators (11-2, 16-8-2) still have a chance to tie for the league title by beating host King's Academy (12-1, 17-9) on Friday. A victory by King's will relegate Castilleja to second place.
Castilleja senior Sammy Albanese did what she could to keep her team in the game as she struck out 18 and allowed no earned runs. She now has 322 strikeouts this season. Albanese, however, was betrayed by two errors as Mercy (10-3, 13-10) scored once in the bottom of the seventh to tie and again in the eighth to win. Mercy managed just two hits off Albanese while the Gators also had three hits while striking out 14 times.
On Tuesday, Albanese pitched a four-inning perfect game, striking out all 12 batters she faced, to lead Castilleja to a 15-0 victory over visiting Mercy-San Francisco. Albanese ended the game with a walk-off home run (her second homer of the game) to cap festivities on Senior Day. Albanese is the only graduating senior on the team. She finished with seven RBI while Gina Freehling added two doubles and Amy Yamamura one.
Also in the WBAL, Menlo (8-5, 11-5) got a two-hitter from freshman pitcher Kelly McConnell in a 1-0 victory over Notre Dame-San Jose.
In the PAL Ocean Division, Menlo-Atherton senior Tami Vujovich closed her prep career on a high note by tossing a no-hitter and striking out 16 in a 7-1 victory over host South San Francisco (1-11) on Wednesday. Vujovich also contributed two hits and two RBI to the triumph while Seini Moimoi had a home run among her two hits and drove in three. Hannah Rosenfeld contributed two hits as the Bears finished 6-6 in league (8-16 overall) with a three-game winning streak.
Elsewhere, Gunn is in and Palo Alto is hoping to get in following two key softball victories by the teams on Tuesday.
The Titans clinched their first berth into the CCS playoffs since 1996 with a 4-3 triumph over host Monta Vista in a SCVAL El Camino Division game. The victory keeps Gunn (9-2, 17-9) tied for first place while the Matadors fell out of a tie at 8-3 (16-6).
After falling behind 3-0 after one inning, Gunn rallied in the fourth with two runs on hits by Taylor Aguon, Nikki Schwardt and Laura Kidder. The Titans scored the deciding runs in the sixth. Freshman pitcher Claire Klausner walked and eventually scored the tying run. Senior Brooke Binkley tallied the winner after reaching base on an error, advancing to third on singles by Carly Fisher and Aguon and then stealing home.
Klausner improved to 16-8 with 12 strikeouts. She allowed six hits, but settled down after giving up the three first-inning runs.
At Palo Alto, the Vikings (6-6, 18-9) kept their CCS playoff hopes alive with an 8-7 victory over visiting Fremont in 11 innings on Tuesday. Paly will have to hope for an at-large berth into the section playoffs after its second-straight victory.
"That was unbelievable," said Paly coach Tim Anderson. "I was jumping up and down during and after the game. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of."
Palo Alto had to endure two different tiebreakers (first with a runner starting at second and the other with a runner at third) after the contest ended in a 4-4 deadlock after seven innings. The Vikings trailed in both, 6-4 and 7-6, before finally winning it in the 11th on Caroline McDonnell's RBI single.
The bottom of the 11th started with Caitlin Tirador placed at third with the Vikings trailing by 7-6. Gracie Marshall ripped a triple to right field to bring Tirador home with the tying run. Marshall then was thrown out at home trying to score on Gracie Stafford's grounder.
Lauren Bucolo singled Stafford to second and McDonnell followed up her triple earlier in the game with the game-winning single.
Paly, which also got three hits from Mariah Philips, finished with a season-high 15. Senior Kelly Jenks pitched all 11 innings to get the victory, despite arriving only five minutes before the start of the game after taking an AP test in psychology.
Anderson scoured all the league standings late into the evening in hopes of figuring out if his team, which finished fourth in the De Anza Division, has a shot at CCS.
"There's no way we can be denied," he said. "I think we have the second-best record in D-II."
It was billed as a showdown between the Palo Alto and Gunn girls, and the SCVAL De Anza Division Championships was every bit of that and more last week at Gunn High.
Perhaps as expected, the Palo Alto girls won an eighth-straight title by scoring 483 points. Gunn challenged the entire afternoon, getting to within 14 points before eventually settling for second with 449. The Vikings won the overall league crown by virtue of winning the championship meet.
In the boys' meet, Monta Vista swam away from runnerup Paly in the late going to win with 414 points to the Vikings' 354. Gunn was sixth with 227.
Palo Alto sophomore Jasmine Tosky was the meet's standout performer as she won the 200 free in 1:47.86, an automatic All-American time that not only broke the meet record of 1:49.26 by Paly's Caroline Killian, but broke Killian's school mark of 1:48.69 from 1998. This was accomplished without Tosky being tapered or shaved, which she will for CCS.
Tosky also won the 100 free in 50.20, which broke her own meet record of 51.12 set in Thursday's trials. That, too, was an automatic All-American time. She also anchored the Vikings' 200 free relay to victory in a meet record of 1:37.09.
Track and field
Menlo-Atherton sophomore Catherine Carpenter won the 200 (27.03) and 400 (58.41) to lead the Bears at the Peninsula Athletic League Championships that finished up Wednesday at College of San Mateo.
Carpenter also ran the third leg of the girls' 400 relay that won in 50.21. Other relay members were junior Tabetha Willems, senior Sophia Kalin and senior Caprice Powell. The same foursome finished fourth in the 1600 relay finals.
Willems added a third in the long jump at 15-3.
In the boys' meet, M-A junior Jason McGhee was second in the 800 in 1:59.77 despite the fact his personal best of 1:53.70 ranks third in the CCS this season. He also took fourth in the 1600 (4:36.30) while teammate Jack Beckwith finished third in the 3200 (9:56.80).