The stage was set for the Sacred Heart Prep girls' golf team on Monday as the Gators tried to duplicate last season's co-championship in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division).
Just like last season, the Gators had lost to Castilleja in the first of two matches. Just like last season, all SHP needed was a victory to force a co-championship. Just like last season, the deciding match was to be played at Sharon Heights Country Club.
Unlike last season, however, SHP couldn't come up with a tying victory. Instead, it was Castilleja playing steady, consistent golf while posting a 226-245 victory to improve to 7-0 in the WBAL (8-0 overall) while SHP fell to 5-2 in league.
"We had a great match today," said Castilleja coach Jim Miller, whose team all but clinched the league's automatic berth for the Central Coast Section tournament with a two-match lead with three to play. "I was very proud of how well the team played against a very solid SHP team, which is led by four seniors."
Castilleja, meanwhile, has no seniors and only one junior among the starters.
The match originally was to be played at Menlo Country Club, but switched after Menlo aerated its greens the previous Monday. In addition to that switch, the teams had to start on the par-5 fifth hole since there was another dual match scheduled on the course.
Castilleja had no problem with the changes as freshman Chloe Sales and junior Taylor Wilkerson each had 4-over 40s to share medalist honors. Wilkerson had a pair of birdies while Sales was steady with six pars. Sophomore co-captain Caroline Debs parred the final three holes for a 47, freshman Danielle Mitchell also shot 47, which included a birdie on the par-3 second hole. Sophomore Ellie Zales battled through some tough holes to cap the scoring with a 52.
"Castilleja was the superior team today, picking up shots in all three groups," said SHP coach Mark Dowdy. "In the first group, Chloe Sales and Taylor Wilkerson were 12 better than Rachael Henry (and Shelby Soltau. In the second group, Caroline Debs and Ellie Zales were two better than Kennedy Shields and Emma Dake. Fourteen shots is just too many to make up, especially when Castilleja's No. 6, freshman Danielle Miller, shot her low round of the season."
Castilleja can clinch no worse than a tie for the regular-season title with a victory over Menlo School on Wednesday at Palo Alto Hills Country Club. Once that is accomplished, Castilleja can win the title outright by beating Mercy-Burlingame next Monday at Crystal Springs Golf Course.
Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, can qualify for CCS with an at-large berth at the CCS Qualifier at Poplar Creek Golf Course on Oct. 26. That's what the Gators did last season, advancing to CCS along with Castilleja.
In a battle between two 2010 state championship finalists, CIF Division II defending champ St. Francis disposed of Division IV runner-up Sacred Heart Prep, 25-21, 25-14, 25-16, in nonleague action Monday night in Mountain View. The Gators fell to 14-5 overall.
Sarah Daschbach had nine kills and 14 digs for SHP with fellow senior Jesse Ebner adding five kills and four blocks. SHP is playing without junior standout Sonia Abuel-Saud, sidelined for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL suffered last month.
Ellie Shannon added nine kills, Olivia Bertolacci contributed 13 digs and Cammie Merten dished out 20 assists in the loss. SHP committed 22 hitting errors in 98 attempts.
Sacred Heart will be back in action Thursday when it hosts rival Menlo School in a WBAL shootout at 5:45 p.m. The Gators (4-0) are in sole possession of first place while the Knights (3-1, 17-5) are just a game back in second, tied with Castilleja (3-1, 15-9).
Palo Alto, meanwhile, will continue its chase for the SCVAL De Anza Division title when the Vikings (5-0, 18-3) visit Homestead on Tuesday before playing host to Mountain View and Stanford-bound Brittany Howard on Thursday, both at 6:45 p.m.
The Vikings head into this week ranked No. 56 in the nation, No. 19 in the state overall, No. 13 in the state (for Division I) and No. 3 in the CCS (No. 1 in Division I), according to MaxPreps.com.