Sports

Rematches are the name of the game in CCS water polo finals

 

Two rematches have been set for championship finals in the 2014 Central Coast Section water polo playoffs, with more possibly to come.

The Gunn girls will face St. Francis for the second straight season in the Division I finals on Saturday at Independence High in San Jose. And, the Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep boys once again will square off in the Division II title match for a second straight season.

A third rematch could be decided on Wednesday night, should Castilleja and Sacred Heart Prep win their semifinals in the girls Division II playoffs.

The only non-rematch will be in the boys' Division I finals where the Bellarmine-St. Francis winner will meet the Gunn-Mountain View winner.

Gunn is hoping to put both teams in the finals at the same time for the first time ever. The No. 2-seeded girls did their part with a 10-6 triumph over No. 3 Leland (15-13) on Tuesday night in the Titans' pool.

"This was an inspired effort by a clutch group," said Gunn coach Mark Hernandez, whose team improved to 22-6. "We had our best offensive game of the year against one of the best teams in the section, in the biggest game most of the players have ever been in."

Gunn grabbed a 3-1 first-quarter lead and expanded it to 7-2 by halftime. Senior Erica Watkins finished with four goals, sophomore Michaela Wayne added three and freshman Zoe Banks had two. Senior goalie Sam Acker finished with 12 saves.

"So many elements of our offense were working, in fact, that we even surprised ourselves," said Hernandez. "We have a lot of experience protecting one-or two-goal leads, so protecting a five-goal lead felt a lit bit out of our comfort zone. In the CCS semifinals, of course, that's a good problem to have, and we knew we had the defense -- and the goal -- to make the lead stick."

Saturday's section final against St. Francis (20-8) will give Gunn a chance to avenge last year's 9-2 loss in the CCS finals and a 9-5 loss to the Lancers to open this season.

The Titans will be making only their second appearance in the finals while the Lancers will be gunning for their eighth section crown.

The boys' Division II final, meanwhile, will match rival teams that have combined for 12 CCS titles since 2000. The Gators have won seven, including the past three, and hold a 4-3 edge over the Knights in title games.

Top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep (24-4) earned its 10th straight appearance in the finals with a 10-6 victory over No. 4 St. Ignatius (15-9) at Bellarmine Prep on Tuesday night.

Senior Michael Swart scored five times for the Gators, who grabbed a 6-0 halftime lead and cruised from there. SHP got single goals from Nelson Perla-Ward, Jackson Enright, Grant Harvey, Alex Tsotadze and Finn Banks.

Second-seeded Menlo (23-6) had a tougher time with No. 3 Soquel (19-8), which grabbed a 6-4 lead before heading into intermission with a 6-5 advantage.

Following halftime, Menlo made a few defensive changes and the tide quickly turned. Led by a standout performance by senior Andreas Katsis who led the team in goals (4), assists (2) and steals (3), Menlo came charging back -- going up by three goals at one point in the fourth quarter with senior goalkeeper Spencer Witte coming up with some key saves in the goal for the Knights.

"This was a tremendous win for us," said Menlo coach Jack Bowen. "I just loved the amount of heart these guys showed when the game was on the line. They showed great character sticking together in the way that they did in such an important game."

Junior Chris Xi added three goals with Nikhil Bhatia contributing two. Witte had 12 saves.

"With many of us having been together for seven years we can just look each other in the eye and push each other," said Katsis. "This has just been such a special year together and we want to continue finishing our time together in such a special way."

Added senior co-captain Nick Bisconti: "All of the seniors got together and talked about how important it is for us to really come together as a team, looking back on what has been seven years for most of us and certainly four years as a core group, and finish our career together giving it everything we've got. We did that tonight and are really looking forward to doing this again together on Saturday."

2014 CCS BOYS WATER POLO PLAYOFFS

DIVISION I

First round

Salinas 13, Los Gatos 8

Monta Vista 12, Wilcox 7

Second round

Salinas 10, Palo Alto 9

Mountain View 15, Monta Vista 8

Quarterfinals

Bellarmine 24, Serra 10

St. Francis 11, Salinas 4

Gunn 11, Leland 5

Mountain View 10, Menlo-Atherton 8

Wednesday's semifinals

At Bellarmine Prep

No. 4 Gunn (17-10) vs. No. 8 Mountain View (18-10), 5:30 p.m.

No. 2 St. Francis (16-10) vs. No. 3 Bellarmine (15-13), 7 p.m.

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DIVISION II

First round

Burlingame 21, Sobrato 10

Pioneer 10, Mills 5

Willow Glen 19, R.L. Stevenson 5

Second round

Santa Cruz 19, Burlingame 12

Willow Glen 10, Pioneer 9

Quarterfinals

Soquel 16, Valley Christian 7

Menlo School 18, Santa Cruz 8

St. Ignatius 10, Carmel 5

Sacred Heart Prep 15, Willow Glen 1

Tuesday's semifinals

At Bellarmine Prep

Menlo School 11, Soquel 9

Sacred Heart Prep 10, St. Ignatius 6

Championship on Saturday

No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (24-4) vs. No. 2 Menlo School (23-6)

-

2014 CCS GIRLS WATER POLO PLAYOFFS

DIVISION I

First round

Menlo-Atherton 11, No. 12 Lynbrook 1

Palo Alto 12, No. 11 Woodside 7

Second round

Palo Alto 9, Carlmont 8

Menlo-Atherton 5, San Benito 2

Quarterfinals

Leland 6, Los Altos 5 (sudden death)

Gunn 5, Palo Alto 2

Los Gatos 8, Mitty 4

St. Francis 13, Menlo-Atherton 1

Tuesday's semifinals

B At Gunn High==

St. Francis 8, Los Gatos 4

Gunn 10, Leland 6

Championship on Saturday

No. 1 St. Francis (20-8) vs. No. 2 Gunn (22-6)

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DIVISION II

First round

Saratoga 7, No. 12 R.L. Stevenson 4

Santa Catalina 9, No. 10 Valley Christian 8

Second round

Sobrato 9, Santa Catalina 6

Saratoga 5, St. Ignatius 3

Quarterfinals

Castilleja 7, Pioneer 4

Soquel 14, Sobrato 3

Willow Glen 11, Presentation 9

Sacred Heart Prep 16, Saratoga 4

Wednesday's semifinals

At Gunn High

No. 2 Soquel (23-3) vs. No. 3 Castilleja 19-5), 5:30 p.m.

No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (21-6) vs. No. 5 Willow Glen (13-5), 7 p.m.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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