When the Menlo School girls head off to the annual Western States Lacrosse Tournament, it usually means only one thing -- a championship for the Knights.
Menlo made its third appearance in statewide event on Saturday at Treasure Island in San Francisco, hosted by Menlo-Atherton High, and came away with its third title in the Blue Division, 8-4 over local rival Palo Alto.
The triumph finished off a 4-0 performance by the Knights (9-3), who also won in 2010 and 2008.
Menlo and Palo Alto (8-7 overall) each took 3-0 records into the finale, the teams' first meeting since the Knights held off the Vikings, 9-8, in a nonconference match earlier in the season. The teams are familiar with each other since many of the players compete on the same out-of-season travel squad.
Despite some great draw controls, good speed in the midfield and nice goals by the Vikings, the Knights grabbed a 5-3 halftime lead. Menlo allowed only one goal in the second half, thanks to big efforts by goalie Hannah Rubin and her rotating defenders.
Menlo coach Jen Lee said it was her cohesive team play, success on draw controls, ball movement and high-percentage shooting that made the difference in the title match. Sophomore Ali Kim and junior Sophie Sheeline led the Knights in the finale with two goals each while sophomore Charlotte Biffar scored two goals for the Vikings.
Menlo defeated No. 4 seed Canyon Crest of San Diego in the semifinals, 11-2, as Elyse Adler scored four goals for the Knights and Sheeline added three. Menlo reached the semis after rallying from a 3-0 deficit against Carlsbad (San Diego Section) to win, 10-5. Kim scored four times while sophomore Michaela Michael added three.
Menlo opened with a 16-4 triumph over Thacher School of Ojai as Michael tallied six goals, Kim added four and Sheeline had three to get the tournament under way.
Michael finished the four matches, -- shortened to 20-minute halves -- with 12 goals and seven assists. Kim added 10 goals and three assists while Sheeline contributed nine goals and two assists. Workhorses for the day in the midfield were senior Kyra Vargas and junior Kacie Madeira.
Menlo scored 45 goals (from nine different players) and an impressive 26 assists (from 11 players) while opponents tallied only 15.
Palo Alto reached the finals with an 8-5 victory over Sacred Heart Prep as Kimmie Flather and Nina Kelty each scored twice. In the quarterfinals, Flather and Biffar each scored two goals in a 4-3 triumph over Canyon Crest. Flather had three goals and Biffar two in a 7-6 victory over Carlsbad to open the tournament, which attracted teams from Sacramento to San Diego.
Menlo will return to action Tuesday at 4 p.m., hosting St. Ignatius in the annual nonleague meeting of two of the top teams in Northern California. The Knights lost to the Wildcats in overtime last season. After host Castilleja on Thursday (4 p.m.), Menlo will head to Orlando, Fla., for matches against teams from Pennsylvannia, New Jersey and Virginia.
Palo Alto will return to SCVAL De Anza Division play on Tuesday, putting its 5-1 division mark on the line at Gunn at 7:30 p.m.
Menlo School took an early lead and recorded an 11-7 SCVAL De Anza Division victory over host Saratoga on Saturday. The Knights improved to 4-3 in league (8-6 overall).
Senior Ryan Stastny had 10 ground balls and scored for the Knights. Sophomore Wiley Osborne and Nick Schultz each recorded four goals and an assist. Junior Ryan Grzejka and sophomore Connor Paterson added goals. Sophomore Luc McNally registed 15 saves for Menlo, plays host to first-place Menlo-Atherton on Thursday at 4 p.m.
With junior Tom Kremer clocking two of the fastest times in the Central Coast Section this season while winning the 100 free and 500 free, the Sacred Heart Prep boys' swim team finished second at the second annual Catholic Invitational on Saturday at Sacred Heart Prep.
Kremer clocked a sizzling 47.15 to win the 100 and came back with a 4:43.53 to take the 500 free. He also swam legs on the winning 200 medley relay and 400 free relay, the latter of which clocked a season best of 3:19.32.
Palo Alto junior Jasmine Tosky and Sacred Heart Prep freshman Ally Howe both were busy during the weekend at the Eric Namesnik Grand Prix in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The long-course (meters) meet afforded competitors a chance to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials in addition to obtain qualifying times for this summer's National Championships at Stanford.
In a meet featuring many 2008 Olympians like Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin, Tosky stepped into the spotlight on Saturday by winning the 200 fly in 2:11.11, an Olympic Trials qualifying mark. Howe also qualified for the Trials by placing fifth in 2:13.41.
Tosky also finished second in the 200 free on Saturday, clocking 1:59.60 to surpass the previous pool record along with winner (and '08 Olympian Katie Hoff, who won in 1:58.24 -- both Oly Trials qualifying marks.
On Sunday, Tosky was third in the 200 IM in 2:13.70 (Oly Trials qualifier) and ninth in the 100 free (55.23), which would have placed her fourth in the finals had she qualified. Howe was sixth in the 200 back in 2:18.86.
Tosky also was eighth in the 100 breast (1:13.78) and ninth in the 200 breast (2:36.28).