The boys' and girls' water polo races in the PAL Bay Division already have taken shape and the season is only one day old following opening-round matches on Wednesday.
In the girls' race, Menlo-Atherton and Castilleja already appear to be the frontrunners following impressive victories. The Bears (1-0, 6-4) blasted visiting Burlingame, 15-1, while the Gators (1-0, 6-1) took care of host Menlo School, 10-3.
In the boys' race, rivals Menlo (1-0, 6-4) and Menlo-Atherton (1-0, 9-5) are the top dogs once again. The defending champion Knights swamped host Carlmont, 13-0, while the host Bears did the same to Burlingame, 16-1.
The Menlo-Atherton and Castilleja squads will meet on Oct. 13 in the Bears' pool to likely decide the league's regular-season title. Before then, both teams have plenty of tests. The Gators, for example, will play at St. Francis on Friday (4 p.m.) and at Sacred Heart Prep on Oct. 8 (5:30 p.m.), testing themselves against the defending CCS Diviion I and II champions.
Menlo-Atherton, meanwhile, will face Menlo and Palo Alto before its showdown with Castilleja.
On Wednesday, Castilleja grabbed a 4-0 halftime lead and coasted against Menlo. Senior Natasha von Kaeppler tallied three goals for the Gators, who welcomed back senior goalie Evan Cranston, who had missed the preseason with shoulder problems. She finished with seven saves. Morgan Cundiff tallied two goals for Menlo.
Defensive-minded Castilleja showed its strength in that area by holding Menlo scoring leader Hailey Smith scoreless. Castilleja assistant coach Jessica Steffens, a recent Stanford graduate and 2008 Olympian, made a name for herself in the sport as a defensive stopper.
At Menlo-Atherton, the Bears jumped out to an 8-0 halftime lead, which allowed M-A coach Chris Rubin to sub liberally in the second half. Eight players scored for the Bears, led by Emily Gran's four goals. She is one of three Emilys on the team. The other two, goalies Emily Dorst and Emily Canny, combined for 11 saves. Canny blocked a five-meter penalty shot.
Seniors Mary Jane O'Neill and Shelby Fero, plus juniors Marie Popp and Brittany Krappe, scored two goals each for M-A.
In PAL boys' action, Menlo made quick work of host Carlmont. The match started at 3 p.m., and the Knights were back at school and done with team photos by 4:30 p.m. Senior John Holland-McCowan scored six goals while junior Brad Haaland made the most of some extensive playing time and tallied four times. The Knights led, 11-0, after one quarter.
In Atherton, Menlo-Atherton began PAL play with a sound thrashing of Burlingame. Despite an early start, the Bears jumped out to a 4-0 first-quarter lead on the way to a rout.
Nine different players scored, led by junior Roger Upton and senior Graham McClelland -- both with three goals apiece. Junior goalie Alex Gow kept the Panthers at bay with eight blocked shots. He also added three assists on long passes to match Max Wilder in that category.
SCVAL De Anza Division
Last season, the Gunn girls featured sisters Jenny and Elizabeth Anderson. Jenny graduated, but the Titans still have two sisters named Anderson this season.
Elizabeth has been joined by freshman Caroline, and both have continued a solid one-two punch for Gunn. On Wednesday, Caroline scored six goals while Elizabeth added four during an 18-5 swamping of host Homestead. Gunn improved to 4-1 in league (7-1 overall).
In a nonleague match, the Palo Alto girls (8-7) dunked host Saratoga, 16-6, as junior Shannon Scheel scored four goals while junior Rachel Harrus and senior Katie Masur added three.
Palo Alto will visit Gunn in a division showdown on Tuesday.
In boys' De Anza Division action on Wednesday, Palo Alto senior Ken Wattana scored four goals to pace the Vikings to an 11-6 victory over host Mountain View. The match was moved up a day. Bret Pinsker added three goals while Jack Smale and Aaron Zelinger contributed two each.
Castilleja remained perfect at 4-0 in the West Bay Athletic League with a 213-239 victory over Sacred Heart Prep at Palo Alto Municipal on Wednesday. Brenna Nelsen led the Gators (4-0) with an even-par 37 while teammate Sarah Debs shot a solid 2-over 39 and Taylor Wilkinson contributed a 40. Rachael Henry and Shelby Soltau led SHP (3-1, 4-1) with 44s.
In another WBAL match, Menlo defeated Notre Dame-San Jose, 228-286, at the par-34 Los Lagos course in San Jose. Freshman Chandler Wickers led the Knights (2-2) with a 41, good for medalist honors. Christina Schwab, another freshman, shot 43 while Gabby Girard checked in with a 44.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton won a pair of matches -- defeating Mills by 288-302 and Capuchino, 288-336, on the front nine at Palo Alto Municipal on Wednesday.
Xin Fang of M-A celebrated her 16th birthday by shooting a 4-over 40 to pace the dual triumphs. She remained unbeaten this season in dual matches. Joanne Cho, playing her first match of the season, helped the Bears with a 55, the team's second-lowest score.