After winning seven straight Central Coast Section Division II titles in girls water polo, Sacred Heart Prep coach Jon Burke is facing a supreme challenge this season.
The Gators have been playing without three starters for the past five matches. During that time, SHP has gone an uncharacteristic 2-3.
Currently sitting due to injuries is sophomore Maddy Johnston, the team's leading scorer last season, and sophomore Layla Waters. A third starter is also currently sidelined.
"I would say missing those three has definitely had an impact on us," Burke said.
Sacred Heart Prep will host St. Francis next Wednesday in a showdown for the West Catholic Athletic League regular-season title.
Those losses have forced Burke to bring up Addi Duvall from the JV team. Duvall responded to the call up by scoring five goals Wednesday in a 17-2 blowout win over visiting Notre Dame-Belmont.
The win moved SHP to 3-0 in the WCAL (11-4 overall) heading into Friday's nonleague home match against Leland at 6 p.m. The showdown will the unbeaten Lancers will be a 6:30 p.m. start on Oct. 15.
Junior Malaika Koshy also scored five goals against the Tigers while sophomore Maddie Pendolino added four and Megan Anderson two. Goalie Emily Riley had seven saves.
Burke knows there is plenty of water polo still to be played before the Gators begin their CCS title defense. The important thing is to get Johnston and Waters back by that time and make sure no one else is sidelined.
The personnel setbacks really showed up last weekend when SHP was routed by visiting San Ramon Valley, 14-2.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton (4-0, 7-6) and Castilleja (4-0, 10-5) remain on a collision course for a title showdown following victories by both teams Wednesday.
The Bears held off visiting Woodside, 6-3, as Keira Shepard, Annabelle Paris and Nadia Paquin all tallied twice. Goalie Francesca Gilles came up with six blocks.
In Burlingame, Castilleja defeated the host Panthers, 7-2, as Celia Aldrete and Fernanda Kramer each scored twice with goalie Maddie Tarr making six saves.
Menlo-Atherton and Castilleja will square off on Oct. 29 in the Bears' pool.
In the PAL Ocean Division, Menlo School (3-2, 6-8) saw its title hopes disappear in a 10-5 loss to visiting Mercy-Burlingame.
The Menlo-Atherton boys raced to victory while the M-A girls settled for second at the second Peninsula Athletic League meet of the season, held over the 2.33-mile layout at Half Moon Bay.
Adam Scandlyn clocked 12:10 while finishing second for the M-A boys. Kevin Conrad clocked 13:05 while finishing ninth and Nicolas Plume finished 10th in 13:05, as well. Rohan DePuy was 14th in 13:14 and Steven McColloch was 17th in 13:18 to wrap up the scoring as M-A totaled 52 points and held off Half Moon Bay by three.
The M-A girls finished with 50 points as Half Moon Bay won the title with 36. M-A junior Madeleine Baier clocked 15:00 for third while fellow juniors Cat DePuy (15:00) and Katie Beebe (15:06) were fourth and sixth, respectively. Kelly Woods (16:09) and Olivia Tai (16:29) ran 16th and 21st, respectively, for M-A.
Castilleja remained tied for first place in the West Bay Athletic League race following a 223-256 victory over Mercy-Burlingame on Wednesday at Poplar Creek GC in San Mateo.
The Gators (4-1) were led by Cosi Layton, who shot a 5-over 40 and made a birdie on the first hole. Chloe Sales carded a 43, Anika Tse and Paris Wilkerson each shot 46 and Colby Cho rounded out the scoring with a 48, the same score that Risa Yang turned in.
Castilleja will meet co-leader Menlo School on Tuesday at the Stanford Golf Course to decide sole possession of first place.
Also at Poplar Creek, Menlo-Atherton moved to within a victory of sharing the PAL Bay Division dual-match title following a 257-290 triumph over Mills.
The Bears (7-2), who need to beat Burlingame next Wednesday to earn a co-title, were led by Abigail Pederson's 5-over 40 against Mills. Margaret Sten shot a personal best of 49, Angie Yang shot 50, Cassidy Barman had a personal best of 51 and Taylor Waddell had a 67. Christiana Park shot a personal best of 41 for M-A, but her score did not count due to a violation of playing a provisional ball.
Boys water polo
Sacred Heart Prep remained unbeaten for the season as senior Michael Swart poured in nine goals to spark the Gators to an 18-9 victory over host Serra on Wednesday night.
Swart had six of his goals in the first period. Senior Nelson Perla-Ward tallied four times, three coming in the third period, as the Gators moved to 3-0 in the WCAL and 9-0 overall. Freshman goalie Alexander Nemeth had eight saves.
SHP will be competing in the annual S&R Sport Tournament this weekend in Irvine, a good tuneup before hosting unbeaten St. Francis in a showdown for the WCAL title next Wednesday.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo School remained tied for first place with Menlo-Atherton following an 18-2 romp over host Burlingame. Wells Costello paced the Knights (3-0, 12-1) with four goals while Chris Xi added three.