Palo Alto's first water polo meeting with rival Gunn this season did not go well for the Paly boys last month. The Vikings were missing two starters and suffered a nine-goal loss as Gunn seniors Calder Hilde-Jones and Christian Znidarsic combined for eight.
Paly firt-year head coach Aaron Johnson knew the second meeting couldn't go the same way.
"We knew we couldn't let those two guys beat us," Johnson said. "If they were going to beat us, it wasn't going to be those two guys."
So, Johnson had Winston Rosati defend Hilde-Jones and Andrew Jozefov shadow Znidarsic. Hilde-Jones did score four goals but Znidarsic was blanked for one of the rare times this season.
The result was a stunning 10-8 victory for Palo Alto in the SCVAL De Anza Division showdown. The loss was Gunn's first in league play and tightened the race considerably. The first-place Titans are 7-1 (10-5) with the second-place Vikings right behind at 7-2 (10-10).
"Winston Rosati did a phenomenal job, as did Jozefov," Johnson said.
Yet another standout for Paly was Justyn Cheung, who finished with five goals.
"Justyn Cheung was definitely the standout," Johnson said. "Five goals, zero ejections, amazing defense. He had the best game of his career, and he's been on that path for the last few games -- really stepping it up. We couldn't have gotten the win without him."
It was Johnson's first win over his older brother, Matt, but not the first time the younger brother had been a part of Paly team that ruined Gunn's perfect season.
Last year, after the Titans had won the division's regular-season title, Paly edged Gunn in the league tournament finale, 9-8. Aaron was an assistant coach at that time.
This time, Johnson the younger was in charge and had his players work another game plan to near perfection with solid defense and good ball movement.
Gunn actually grabbed a 4-2 lead just into the second quarter when Hilde-Jones converted during a 6-of-5 advantage. Paly, however, answered with three unanswered goals from Jozefov and two by Justyn Cheung for a 5-4 halftime lead.
After Gunn tied the match at 5 on a goal by Young Lee with 3:05 left in the third period and again at 6 by Hilde-Jones just into the fourth quarter, the Titans never were able to take the lead.
Jozefov put Paly on top at 7-6 on a man advantage before Rosati beat a Gunn player to a loose ball following a missed shot and passed to Jack Anderson, who scored for an 8-6 lead.
Jack Mallery brought Gunn to within 8-7 with 1:50 left to play, but Cheung scored his fifth goal on a 6-on-5 with 1:09 remaining to give the Vikings a seemingly safe 9-7 lead with what proved to be the winning goal.
When Hilde-Jones fired in his fourth goal from well outside, it was 9-8 with juste 10.49 seconds. Gunn coach Matt Johnson pulled his goalie to give the Titans an extra field player, but the ploy backfired when Rosati came up with a loose ball and fired a pool-length shot into an empty goal for the insurance goal.
Gunn lost starter Patrick Zhao to three major fouls with 5:03 left in the third period.
While a victory would have given Gunn a near lock on the regular-season title, the Titans now face their final four matches needing to win them all -- depending on how the Vikings fare in their final three games.
Menlo sophomore Robert Miranda ran off with individual honors at the WBAL Meet No. 2 race at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale on Thursday while the Sacred Heart Prep boys finished second in the team race, one point behind champion Crystal Springs.
Miranda toured the flat, 3.1-mile layout in 16:17.5 to win by nearly 13 seconds over Brett Anstrom of Sacred Heart Prep. He clocked 16:40.1. Raphael Serrano of Menlo was third in 16:45.9.
In the girls' race, Eliza Crowder of Menlo was second overall in 19:27.4 with Natalie Novitsky of Sacred Heart Prep fourth (19:51.2) and freshman Zion Gabriel of Eastside Prep fifth in 20:18.6. Castilleja finished second in the team race with 76 points, just three points behind King's Academy.
Menlo-Atherton wrapped up an 8-2 season in the Peninsula Athletic League with a 224-304 dual-match victory over Mills at Poplar Creek Golf Course in San Mateo.
The Bears finished tied with Aragon for the league title. The tiebreaker will be determined by the best team score at the PAL Championship on Oct. 27. The winning team will earn a berth into the Central Coast Section playoffs.
Junior Abigail Pederson earned medalist honors for M-A against Mills with a 1-over 36. Fellow juniors Angie Yang (42) and Christiana Park (43) helped secure the victory.
Menlo-Atherton clinched no worse than a tie for the PAL Bay Division title and kept its league season perfect, but it wasn't easy despite a routine-looking 6-1 dual-match win over visiting Burlingame on Thursday.
The Bears (11-0, 15-4) saw their No. 1 singles player, Lanie Van Linge, forced to retire after just one game. After that, things eventually turned in the Panthers' favor. With three matches still on the court and M-A trailing in all three, Burlingame sensed an upset.
However, M-A's Yvette Leung, Elise Kratzer and the doubles tandem of Libby and Laura Kirk would not give in.
Leung pulled out a 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4 win at No. 2 singles, Krazter won at No. 4 singles and the Kirk sisters did the same at No. 3 doubles to secure the triumph while dropping Burlingame to 8-3 in league with three matches remaining. M-A can win yet another outright title by beating host Carlmont on Tuesday.
Menlo School rolled to a volleyball sweep over host Mercy-San Francisco and remained in second place in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) on Thursday night. The Knights improved to 4-1 in league (15-6 overall) after a 25-20, 25-8, 25-14 win in San Francisco.
Outside hitters Maddie Stewart posted 15 kills, Dea Dressel 11 and Ashley Dreyer 10. Kristin Sellers dished out 30 assists and Selina Xu added 10 more for Menlo, which won its third straight. Freshman Sianna Houghton picked up 17 digs while junior Jessica Houghton contributed 11 and Riley Holland had nine more. Senior middle Olivia Pellarin added three blocks for the Knights.
In Atherton, host Sacred Heart Prep held off Notre Dame-San Jose, 25-14, 25-11, 23-25, 25-23 in WBAL Foothill Division) action. Cate Desler led the Gators (2-3, 14-8) with 15 kills. Lilika Teu finished with 35 assists and four aces, Sammy Phillips contributed 13 kills, Jorden Schreeder came up with 19 digs and Rachel Cheung added 14 digs.