Sports

Menlo girls, SHP and Paly boys win lacrosse titles

 

The final day of the 2015 high school lacrosse season was a busy one with four league championship matches being held.

In addition to the Palo Alto girls holding off rival Gunn in two overtimes (see separate story), the West Bay Athletic League, Peninsula Athletic League and SCVAL De Anza Division all wrapped up with local teams winning all three titles on Saturday.

At the WBAL finals at Burlingame High, the Menlo School girls ended rival Sacred Heart Prep's two-year run as playoff champ with a dominating 17-9 victory. The Knights finished 15-7 and the Gators 9-13.

"The finals are always a big deal," said Menlo coach Jen Lee. "Our first half was phenomenal. We are thrilled with the outcome, absolutely. But, certainly prepared for it all season."

Menlo School played its toughest schedule ever in preparation for the league playoffs. During one stretch of nonleague matches, the Knights went 1-3 with losses to Monte Vista (Danville), defending Oregon state champ Lake Oswego and NorCal power Novato and fell to 6-5 after the third straight loss.

Menlo was missing its only goalie, Alena Stern, during those losses.

"We were lucky to win vs. Cleveland Heights without her," Lee said of the fourth game of the tough stretch. "She was injured for four of five of our games during the (spring) break."

Lee said Stern also was injured during warmups prior to Thursday's semifinal win and wound up getting a cast on her hand on Saturday morning before the title match.

"It has been a wild ride, when you only have one GK," said Lee.

The Knights learned well from those setbacks and rolled once playoff time arrived. That showed up in the first half on Saturday as Menlo grabbed a 13-3 lead.

SHP scored first when Pippa Thompson dodged in for the finish just 1:40 into the game. Menlo answered 12 seconds later when sophomore middie Sophia Donovan drove down the middle and dished off to senior attacker Josie Rouser, who had the fast finish on the left side of the crease. Eight seconds later, Donovan grabbed the draw possession and notched her first goal.

On the next draw, Donovan passed to junior captain attacker Kaitlin Frangione, who scored. The Knights tallied those three goals in just 36 total seconds. Menlo made it 4-1 when Donovan assisted junior middie captain Nikky Price with 22:39 left in the half.

After SHP senior Brigid White scored the first of her five goals, Menlo fired off seven straight goals and eventually held an 11-2 goal with 12:47 still to play before intermission.

Following halftime, Menlo scored for a 14-3 lead before the Gators got a goal from junior Juliana Clark and two from White to make it 14-6. After the Knights called time, White scored twice more on free positions and the Gators were within 14-8 with 12:58 to go. SHP's Kailey Wachhorst scored next, to narrow the spread to five goals with 9:02 remaining.

Menlo refocused on offensive possession, and Price scored next on a free-position, followed by a goal from Donovan and, and a combo of senior defender Kenzie Mayer to frosh middie Abby Wolfenden provided the final goal of the game, with 4:13 left to play.

Menlo had six different players score in the first half with six of the 13 goals assisted. It was precision passing and finesse finishes plus dominant possession and strong communication on defense.

Donovan finished with three goals and five assists, Price had five goals and junior attack captain Parvathi Narayan added three goals plus two assists. Indie Varma also tallied three times for Menlo, which had 16 players who contributed to the win. Donovan also won eight draw controls and earned four caused turnovers. Wolfenden, a freshman, stepped up, and shone in the midfield with four draw controls and two ground balls.

In addition to White, SHP goalie Emilie Swan had 13 saves and Thompson finished with two goals.

Boys

Despite finishing second to rival Menlo during the regular season in the Peninsula Athletic League, Sacred Heart Prep turned the tables and captured its second straight playoff title with a 7-5 victory over the Knights on Saturday at Burlingame High.

The teams were tied at 2 at halftime before the Gators (17-5) pulled away. SHP goalie Austin Appleton had 16 saves and was named the MVP of the championship match. Jack Crockett tallied three goals for SHP with Will Kremer adding two goals and two assists. Frank Bell and Trevor Peay tallied solo goals.

The Knights wrapped up a 15-6 season, during which they finished 12-1 in league.

Mason Brady scored twice for Menlo on Saturday and Nick Frangione added a pair of assists. Senior captain Jack Marren returned from injury and added a goal and an assist.

SHP's Peay scored the game's first goal a minute into the game, and the Gators led 1-0 entering the second. Menlo countered when Brady delivered a cross shot a minute into the second quarter. The teams traded goals again with Menlo's George Pike taking a feed from Nick Frangione and scoring with 1:36 left.

Menlo goalie Bruno Geoly had two big saves to close the half with the score knotted at 2.

The teams tied again -- twice in the third period -- when Brady scored on a feed from Marren and when Charlie Ferguson scored off an assist from Frangione to make it 4-4. SHP pulled ahead on goals by Bell and Crockett. Menlo's Pike fed Marren with 4:47 left to trim the lead by one, but SHP held.

At the SCVAL De Anza Division playoff finale, No. 2-seeded Palo Alto upended host and top-seeded Los Gatos, 9-5. The Vikings (14-5) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, and never led by less the remainder of the game.

While the Wildcats were dominant at face-offs, winning all but two, the Paly limited transition opportunities and dueled it out in settled lacrosse. Paly junior goalie Quintin Valenti had 15 saves and was named the game's MVP.

Matthew Seligon led Paly with three goals and two assists. Cole Tierney added two goals with senior captain Zack Levitan, Owen Staiger, Ariya Momeny, and Ethan Jorasch all having a goal a piece.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Menlo Athletics

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