After splitting its regular-season matches with rival Menlo School, a third time was a charm for the Sacred Heart Prep girls in the West Bay Athletic League lacrosse playoff finals on Tuesday night at Palo Alto High.
Avenging three losses to the Knights last year, the Gators held on for a 7-6 triumph to sweep the regular-season and playoff crowns.
"It was a close game, between neighboring rivals," said Menlo coach Jen Lee. "The games will undoubtedly continue to be close in years to come."
All three matches between the rivals were close this season. SHP won the first meeting, 13-12 in OT, before the Knights took the second meeting, 11-7. As expected, Tuesday's match was close until the end.
"It was a great game," said Menlo junior Indira Varma, who scored two goals with an assist. "I think it was pretty evenly matched and both teams came out with all their might, and both teams really wanted a win."
By the half, the score was tied a 3. Menlo's Allison Liddle got two of her three goals in the first half as did SHP's Libby Muir. To start the second half, the Gators' Cam Gordon peeled off two goals then Alison Carter added another with 15 minutes left.
The Knights were far from done. Varma scored three minutes later. SHP's Muir scored less than a minute later, Menlo's Kaitlin Frangione fired in an unassisted goal with 8:23 left to close the gap to 7-5. Liddle closed out the scoring with 2:13 left for her third goal.
Alena Stern and the Menlo defense kept SHP at bay the last nine minutes of the game. She finished with nine saves -- saving 64 percent of SHP's 14 shots. SHP goalie Emma Briger had six saves.
Menlo finished 13-9 and will lose three seniors -- Nikky Price (William & Mary), Kaitlin Frangione (Davidson) and Chelsea Sahami (University of Redlands).
"We're like a big family," Varma said. "We're a really young team with six freshmen and only three seniors and we've really come together despite how young we are and how new we are."
SHP will lose seniors Pippa Thompson, Muir, Emma Johnson, Juliana Clark and Caroline Buchsbaum.
The WBAL could be well-represented in the finals of the Central Coast Section Individual Tournament after Pinewood's Gabe Owens and Menlo School's brother tandem of Lane and Bo Leschley advanced to the semifinals at Imperial Courts in Aptos.
The top-seeded Owens advanced with a 6-0, 6-0 first-round singles victory over Reed Fratt of Menlo-Atherton before adding a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over Issa Yoshida of Westmont. Owens will face No. 2 seed Kailas Shakar of Saratoga in the semifinals on Wednesday.
The Leschly brothers advanced with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Branden and Justin Kim from Leland before eliminating Lenny Lin and Michael Wan of Monta Vista, 6-2, 6-4. Menlo's No. 2-seeded tandem will meet Gunn's No. 3-seeded team of Amit Rao and Dillon Yang in the semifinals
Rao and Yang advanced with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Aragon's Landers Ngirchemat and Jonathan Liu in the first round and a 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Jacob Klatt and Tommy Seaman of Los Gatos in the quarterfinals.
In other matches, Menlo freshman Andrei Volgin won his opening singles match, 6-0, 6-3, but lost to Shakar in the quarters, 6-3, 6-1. In doubles, Menlo-Atherton's Jack Jensen and Timmy Berthier won their opener, 6-4, 6-3, but lost in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to Woodside's Alex Kastelein and Levi Vigdorchick. M-A's Noah Milman and Camillo Saueressig fell in the first round, 6-1, 6-3.