SHP boys and girls open CCS title defenses in water polo


By Keith Peters

Palo Alto Online Sports

The 2010 Central Coast Section water polo playoffs get under way Tuesday with the Sacred Heart Prep boys and girls receiving byes and opening defense of their Division II titles on Saturday.

While the Gators are seeded No. 1 for both boys and girls, the competition will be tough for a four-peat with the addition of Los Altos to each field. The Eagles competed in Division I last season, but now are in Division II. That sets up some interesting matchups before the finals are held on Nov. 20 at Independence High in San Jose.

In the boys' bracket, Sacred Heart Prep (17-9) will meet the winner of No. 9 Carmel (15-9) and No. 8 Willow Glen (11-8) in the quarterfinals. The Gators should advance to the semifinals against the winner of No. 4 Soquel (17-6) and No. 5 Valley Christian (11-13) and move on to the finals.

In the other half of the bracket, however, is No. 2 Menlo (15-9) and No. 3 Los Altos (20-6). They should meet in the semifinals on Nov. 16 in what should be a tossup. The Eagles just won the SCVAL De Anza Division playoffs after going unbeaten during the regular league season. Menlo lost twice to SHP during the season, but both setbacks came in overtime.

In boys' Division I, No. 8 Gunn (12-11) will open Tuesday against No. 9 Salinas (16-10) at Monta Vista High in Cupertino at 5:30 p.m., while No. 7 Palo Alto (12-15) will host No. 10 Wilcox (18-4) at 7 p.m. Menlo-Atherton (16-7) is the No. 3 seed and will face the Woodside-Leland winner on Saturday.

In the girls' Division II field, Sacred Heart Prep (23-3) is a heavy favorite to reach the finals once again and play for a fourth straight section title. The Gators likely will face No. 4 St. Ignatius (11-12), a finalist last season, in the semifinals. In the top half of the bracket is No. 2 Los Altos (18-6) and No. 3 Castilleja (15-9), who should meet in the semifinals.

It's quite possible that both Sacred Heart Prep teams could face Los Altos in their respective finals, which would be a first for both schools. The Eagles have yet to win a CCS title for either boys or girls.

In other Division II first-round action Wednesday, the No. 7-seeded Menlo girl s (8-12) will face No. 10 Live Oak (10-8) at Palo Alto High at 5:30 p.m. The winner will face Los Altos in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

In girls' Division I action, No. 5 Palo Alto (15-13) will host No. 12 Santa Teresa (12-14) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The winner will face No. 4 Gunn (21-5) on Saturday. The Titans beat Paly, 5-4, in the semifinals of the De Anza Division playoffs before losing to Los Altos, 5-2, in the finals.

"This was easily our best defensive effort of the year," Gunn coach Mark Hernandez following the loss on Saturday night. "Shelby Newman and Casey Lincoln, in particular, played outstanding on-ball defense. In addition, Elizabeth Anderson, Rachel Acker and Emily Watkins played exceptionally well. Offensively, we got a lot of good looks, but just had some bad shooting luck.

"We're really proud of our girls, though. Los Altos is one of the elite teams in the section. They're experienced, athletic, savvy, tough and gifted offensively, and we gave them all that they could handle. A few bounces our way, and we're the league champ."

Palo Alto got seven goals from Skylar Dorosin and three from Anna Glaves in a 13-5 win over Los Gatos in the third-place match.

The Gunn-Paly winner will advance to face, most likely, No. 1 Menlo-Atherton (15-9) in the semifinals. The Bears will open Saturday against the winner of No. 8 Gilroy (20-2) and No. 9 Sequoia (10-5). Awaiting M-A in a possible championship match will be either No. 2 Leland (22-4) or No. 3 St. Francis (16-8).

St. Francis fell to Sacred Heart Prep, 9-6, in the finals of the West Catholic Athletic League playoffs on Saturday in the Gators' pool. Clare Rudolph scored three goals to lead SHP.

"Some of our more offensively oriented players were asked to take on defensive roles," explained SHP coach Jon Burke. "They did an outstanding job of this and their ability to do it well played a key role in our team success. Overall, it was a real team effort. Each athlete contributed to the win.

"Offensively, Clare did an excellent job. She took the correct shots and came through with three clutch goals for us. Ally (Flessel) also stepped up big and scored two goals at critical times in the game. Both of them contributed greatly to keeping our momentum. St. Francis is the two-time defending CCS Division I champion. They are an experienced team that is difficult to play against during the postseason. We knew that we were going to have to stay focused and execute the game plan. We went into the game stressing the importance of being flexible and adaptable during the game. We did a great job of this."

Burke said winning the WCAL championship was an important goal.

"We are happy to have accomplished that and are now ready to put our attention towards the CCS playoffs. There are some excellent teams in our division. We know that we are going to have to be well-prepared to be successful down the stretch."


First round (Tuesday)

Leland 11, Woodside 7

Palo Alto 17, Wilcox 8

Gunn 16, Salinas 11

Monta Vista 14, San Benito 9

Quarterfinals on Saturday


First round (Tuesday)

No. 10 Half Moon Bay (14-4) vs. No. 7 Live Oak (13-9) at Lynbrook High, 5:30 p.m.

No. 9 Carmel (15-9) vs. No. 8 Willow Glen (11-8) at Lynbrook 7 p.m.

Quarterfinals on Saturday


First round (Wednesday)

No. 6 Mitty (13-9) at No. 11 Lynbrook (17-10), 7 p.m.

No. 10 San Benito (18-6) vs. No. 7 Los Gatos (13-11) at Monta Vista High, 4 p.m.

No. 12 Santa Teresa (12-14) at No. 5 Palo Alto (15-13), 7 p.m.

No. 9 Sequoia (10-5) vs. No. 8 Gilroy (20-2) at Monta Vista, 5:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals on Saturday


First round (Wednesday)

No. 11 Santa Cruz (16-8) vs. No. 6 Pioneer (16-6) at Lynbrook High, 4 p.m.

No. 10 Live Oak (10-8) vs. No. 7 Menlo School (8-12) at Palo Alto High, 5:30 p.m.

No. 12 R.L. Stevenson (16-10) vs. No. 5 Presentation (16-7) at Lynbrook, 5:30 p.m.

No. 9 San Lorenzo Valley (12-4) vs. No. 8 Aragon (10-11) at Monta Vista High, 7 p.m.

Quarterfinals on Saturday

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