The good news for the Menlo-Atherton boys' water polo team was that it held rival Menlo School to three fewer goals than in the teams' previous meeting. The bad news? It didn't matter.
The Knights, who had beaten the Bears by a 9-4 score to win the Scott Roche Invitational last month, made it two-in-row with a 6-4 triumph on Wednesday in a key PAL Bay Division match.
While the Roche title was important for Menlo, this latest victory moved the Knights closer to defending their 16th straight division crown and the 17th in the past 18 seasons. Menlo coach Jack Bowen has won 11 straight since taking over in 2000. The last time Menlo failed to win a league title was 1995.
The host Knights (2-0, 10-2) used their swarm-style defense to hold the Bears (1-1, 9-8) to four goals for the second time this season. Menlo's defense was sparked by the goalie play of senior Connor Dillon, who came up with 12 saves.
Menlo-Atherton actually forced a 3-3 deadlock in the second quarter when Max Wilder made a steal and a sprint in open water to score. The Knights, however, countered quickly with senior Nick Hale finding the net just seconds later for a 4-3 halftime lead.
Menlo improved its lead in the third period on goals by Hale and Alexander Carlisle, who finished with three to lead the team. Hale wound up with a pair. Menlo had assists from Hale, Jack Lucas, Brad Haaland, and Carlisle. Evan McClelland had a pair of goals for the Bears, with Morgan Olson-Fabbro and Wilder adding the others.
Menlo, the defending Central Coast Section Division II champ, will host Southern California power Santa Margarita on Friday at 2:30 p.m. during in the Knights' homecoming weekend.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto remained just a game back of first-place Los Altos (8-0, 13-4) following a wild 12-7 victory over Mountain View 5-3, 13-4). Bret Pinsker tallied five goals and Aaron Zelinger added three as the Vikings (7-1, 10-3) jumped out to a 6-3 halftime lead.
Paly overcame a mixup at the scoring table that reportedly erased two Mountain View goals and played on after three starters were excluded on fouls and a fourth, Pinsker, was ejected.
Palo Alto will visit Los Altos on Oct. 20 (6:45 p.m.) with a shot to tie the Eagles for the regular-season title. Los Altos won the first meeting, 9-8.
In Cupertino, Gunn rolled to a 16-4 SCVAL De Anza Division victory over host Homestead as Tyler Wilson poured in six goals and Gavin Kerr added four. The Titans (4-3 in league) also got two goals from Michael Znidarsic and Coby Wayne.
Girls' water polo
With sisters Elizabeth and Caroline Anderson combining for 12 goals, Gunn swamped host Homestead, 13-4, to remain a game back of first-place Los Altos in the SCVAL De Anza Division race. Elizabeth led the way with seven goals as the Titans improved to 6-1 (8-6 overall).
In Cupertino, senior Skylar Dorosin scored seven goals to power Palo Alto to a 13-4 victory over host Cupertino in SCVAL De Anza Division play. Shannon Scheel added three goals for the Vikings (4-3, 10-7).
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton remained unbeaten in the race as Emily Gran poured in four goals and Charlotte-Marie Popp added three in a15-1 dunking of host Menlo School on Wednesday. The Bears (2-0, 5-7) has assists on 11 of their goals in addition to coming up with 11 steals in the lopsided victory.
With freshman Chloe Sales firing a 2-over 37, Castilleja clinched no worse than a tie for first place in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) with a 214-251 dual-match victory over Menlo School at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club on Wednesday. The Gators improved to 8-0 in league (9-0 overall) and can win the title outright by beating Mercy-Burlingame on Monday.
Sales had two birdies in her round on the front nine while sophomore Caroline Debs had her low round of the season with a 41. Junior Taylor Wilkerson shot 42, and freshman Danielle Mitchell also shot her low score of the year, a 43. Frances Hughes shot a 55 to wrap up the scoring. Caroline Broderick shot the low score for Menlo, a 46.
In San Jose, Wake Forest-bound Rachael Henry registered a pair of birdies to help fashion an even-par round of 36 to pace the Sacred Heart Prep girls' golf team to a 213-285 dual-match victory over host Notre Dame-San Jose at San Jose Muni. The team score was the lowest for the Gators (6-2) this season in WBAL (Foothill Division) action.