The 2014 water polo season for the Menlo School boys didn't end the way coach Jack Bowen wanted. His 11 seniors wrapped up their careers by losing the PAL Bay Division title to rival Menlo-Atherton and the Central Coast Section Division II crown to rival Sacred Heart Prep.
All, however, was not lost during the season. The Knights did finish a fine 23-7, their second 23-win season since 2006, and won their own Scott Roche Invitational for the first time since 2011.
Menlo won the 2014 Roche tourney with an 11-10 win over San Ramon Valley. Nine of the goals came from players who since have graduated. The only scoring holdover is senior Chris Xi.
Xi and his new teammates will seek a fresh start and a second straight Roche title this weekend when the 18th annual affair gets under way Friday with 16 top teams from around the state.
The lineup includes NorCal teams Christian Brothers, Drake, Menlo-Atherton, Palo Alto, St. Francis, St. Mary's (Stockton), San Ramon Valley, Valley Christian, St. Ignatius, Leland, Rio Americano, Oak Ridge and Menlo. From the south, La Jolla, San Luis Obispo and Vista (San Diego) will be making the trip.
The tournament is named in the memory of Scott Roche, a Menlo School ('90) and Princeton ('94) graduate and water polo standout who died in a car accident in Seattle in 1998. At Menlo, he helped the Knights go 21-1 his senior year and win a PAL title. At Princeton, he captained the Tigers to a 26-1 record, Ivy League title and a No. 7 national ranking.
Action will be split between Menlo School and Gunn High, with third place (3:40 p.m.) and first place (4:45 p.m.) decided at Menlo on Saturday.
Menlo (2-0) tuned up for the tournament by swamping host Carlmont, 20-1, to open the PAL Bay Division season on Wednesday. Xi led the way with six goals and James Thygesen added 4. Nico Bhatia and Sam Untrecht tossed in three with Ben Wagner and Jayden Kunwar tallying two apiece.
Kunwar was the co-MVP on the Stanford Water Polo Club's gold medal-winning 14U team at the Junior Olympics this summer. Untrecht also was on the team, but missed JOs with a broken hand.
In Moraga, Sacred Heart Prep (1-1) gave up a goal with 3:36 left in the fourth period and dropped a 6-5 nonleague decision to host Campolindo. Alex Tsotadze, another former standout with the Stanford WPC, led the Gators with three goals while Finn Banks added two.
SHP twice trailed by two goals, the second time at 4-2 in the second period. Tsotadze, however, scored twice to tie the match at 4 by halftime. Campolindo surged ahead at 5-4 before Banks tied it again with 1:58 left in the third quarter.
In girls' action, Castilleja (1-0, 3-2) opened defense of its PAL Bay Division title with a 10-2 dunking of host Carlmont on Wednesday. Jenna Kotcher scored twice for Castilleja with Celia Aldrete and Maddie Macdonald tallying twice. Georgia Lewis had eight saves in goal.
The Menlo-Atherton at Aragon match was not reported.
18th ANNUAL SCOTT ROCHE INVITATIONAL
At Menlo School
M1 -- Menlo School vs. Leland, noon
M2 -- St. Mary's vs. Valley Christian, 1 p.m.
M3 -- La Jolla vs. Oak Ridge, 2 p.m.
M4 -- St. Francis vs. Rio Americano, 3 p.m.
M5 -- M1 loser vs. M2 loser, 4 p.m.
M6 -- M1 winner vs. M2 winner, 5 p.m.
M7 -- M3 loser vs. M4 loser, 6 p.m.
M8 -- M3 winner vs. M4 winner, 7 p.m.
At Gunn High
A1 -- Palo Alto vs. Vista, 1 p.m.
A2 -- Drake vs. Christian Brothers, 1:55 p.m.
A3 -- San Ramon Valley vs. St. Ignatius, 2:50 p.m.
A4 -- Menlo-Atherton vs. San Luis Obispo, 3:45 p.m.
A5 -- A1 loser vs. A2 loser, 4:45 p.m.
A6 -- A1 winner vs. A2 winner, 5:40 p.m.
A7 -- A3 loser vs. A4 loser, 6:35 p.m.
A8 -- A3 winner vs. A4 winner, 7:30 p.m.
At Menlo School
G1 -- M6 loser vs. M8 loser, 8:45 a.m.
G2 -- A6 loser vs. A8 loser, 9:55 a.m.
G3 -- M6 winner vs. M8 winner, 11:05 a.m. (semifinal)
G4 -- A6 winner vs. A8 winner, 12:15 p.m. (semifinal)
G5 -- G1 loser vs. G2 loser, 1:30 p.m.
G6 -- G1 winner vs. G2 winner, 2:35 p.m.
G7 -- G3 loser vs. G4 loser (third place)
G8 -- G3 winner vs. G4 winner (championship)
At Gunn High
E1 -- M5 loser vs. M7 loser, 8 a.m.
E2 -- A5 loser vs. A7 loser, 9 a.m.
E3 -- M5 winner vs. M7 winner, 10 a.m.
E4 -- A5 winner vs. A7 winner, 11 a.m.
E5 -- E1 loser vs. E2 loser, 12:15 p.m.
E6 -- E1 winner vs. E2 winner, 1:15 p.m.
E7 -- E3 loser vs. E4 loser, 2:15 p.m.
E8 -- E3 winner vs. E4 winner, 3:15 p.m.