Local water polo teams wrap up regular-season titles | News | Palo Alto Online |


Local water polo teams wrap up regular-season titles


Regular-season water polo champions were crowned in the PAL Bay Division and West Catholic Athletic League on Wednesday in two very distinct ways.

The PAL titles both went into overtime while the Sacred Heart Prep boys and girls cruised to easy victories.

The two PAL matches at Menlo-Atherton saw four teams combine for 15 periods. Castilleja emerged with a 7-6 triumph over the M-A girls in the third sudden-death period while the M-A boys topped defending champ Menlo School, 14-11, in overtime.

Castilleja junior Celia Aldrete scored in the third extra period of sudden death to carry the Gators (7-0, 14-5) to their thrilling victory over the host Bears (6-1, 10-9) and their first-ever PAL Bay Division title.

The Bears seemingly had a victory secured after sophomore Annabelle Paris scored for a 6-4 lead with 1:54 left in the second mandatory overtime period. Castilleja, however, answered in a hurry.

Senior Anna Yu scored with 42 seconds left and, after getting the ball back, Castilleja coach Brenda Villa called time to set up a play. With just 4.35 seconds remaining, Yu tied the game and sent it to sudden death.

A long shot by M-A's Nadia Paquin that found the cage after the buzzer was denied, and both teams played on.

The Bears and Gators failed to score in the first two sudden-death periods (where first goal wins) before Aldrete fired a shot past M-A goalie Francesca Gilles in the ninth quarter of play.

The loss ended M-A's streak of seven straight league titles while Castilleja's win over the Bears was its first in league play since 2006, ending an eight-game losing streak (the teams played twice last year).

Gilles and Castilleja goalie Maddie Tarr both were credited with 18 stops, many from point-blank range.

Paquin had three goals, Paris two and Kyra Sheeper one for M-A, with Aldrete and Maddie Macdonald finishing with two for Castilleja.

"The difference," said M-A first-year coach Tatiana Dehnad, "was Castilleja did not give up and fought back. It was a battle until the very last second and both teams worked extremely hard until the very end. I'm proud of my girls and, unfortunately, it wasn't our day. But, we will see them again."

The teams likely will face off in the PAL playoffs that begin next week.

The M-A and Menlo boys also could face each other again in the PAL playoffs, which would be their third meeting of the season. The first came last weekend in the North-South Challenge, where the Knights held on for a 15-13 victory.

The Bears (6-0, 13-11) gained revenge by winning their second regular-season title in three years. The Knights (5-1, 18-5), meanwhile, still can win their 21st overall league crown in 22 years by taking the playoffs.

Menlo grabbed a 9-7 lead after three quarters before M-A tallied four goals in the fourth quarter to tie it at 11 and send the match to a pair of mandatory overtimes. M-A struck first in OT and secured the victory when senior first-year player Matheus Santos scored on an open cage to wrap things up. He finished with four goals.

M-A freshman goalie Noah Smith came up big for the Bears, as did seniors Matt Baszucki (four goals) and Mostyn Fero (two goals). Baszucki scored the 7th, 8th and 9th goals to bring M-A back from a 9-6 deficit to 10-9 and then added his team's 13th goal in OT. Andreas Katsis led Menlo with seven goals while goalie Spencer Witte had 13 saves.

In the WCAL, the Sacred Heart Prep boys wrapped up the regular-season title with a 13-5 victory over host Valley Christian in San Jose. The Gators (6-0, 17-3), who will be the top seed for the league playoffs next week, were led by Michael Swart's six goals and two by fellow senior Nelson Perla-Ward. Goalies JC Marco and freshman Alexander Nemeth combined for 14 saves.

The SHP girls, meanwhile, captured their first regular-season title in the WCAL since 2011 with a 14-1 dunking of visiting Valley Christian. Megan Anderson and Malaika Koshy each tallied four goals for the Gators (6-0, 15-5), who grabbed an 8-1 halftime lead and rolled behind 10 saves from goalie Emily Riley.

Meg Avery and Layla Waters each added two goals for SHP, which next will compete in the NorCal Championships this weekend at Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo-Atherton. The Bears and Gunn also will be playing.

Girls golf

Menlo School finished its West Bay Athletic League season season by winning the league tournament on Wednesday at Poplar Creek Golf Course in San Mateo with a team score of 408.

The conditions were good and Menlo took full advantage. Jessie Rong birdied No. 7 and 14 on her way to a 4-over 75 that earned her second place. Lauren Yang played extremely well by posting an 81, good for fourth overall. Sophie Siminoff, who shot 3-under last week in a nine-hole match, slipped a little with an 82 and Nicole Henderson kept it respectable with a nifty 82 also as both tied for fifth. Claire Wilson balanced out the 408 with and 88.

Katherine Zhu from Harker was the medalist by shooting even-par 71. Sacred Heart Prep's Jessica Koenig was third with a 78 while teammate Lauren von Thaden tied for ninth with an 85 and SHP's Cami Steppe was 11th with an 87.

Round-robin champ Castilleja decided not to participate in Wednesday's tourney, having already qualified for the Central Coast Section Tournament, which will be held Tuesday at Rancho Canada (East) GC in Carmel Valley.

Menlo must wait until other league tournament scores are considered before they find out if its 408 will qualify on Thursday. Three at-large teams and 23 at-large individuals will be added to the field.

Girls tennis

Palo Alto improved to 15-4 on the year with a 5-2 nonleague victory over host Gunn on Wednesday. The Vikings swept the singles behind Avanika Narayan, Kelsey Wang, Mailinh Truong and Emma Cockerell.

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