Plenty of games ahead for local boys water polo teams


Palo Alto and Gunn opened SCVAL De Anza Division boys water polo play successfully this past week, as did Sacred Heart Prep in the WCAL and Menlo School and Menlo-Atherton in the PAL Bay Division.

Four of those teams hope to continue that success through the weekend at the 19th annual Scott Roche Invitational that begins Friday at both Menlo School and Menlo-Atherton.

"The tournaments are a great way to play some teams that we might not normally see, and get a lot of good games in a short period of time," Gunn coach Matt Johnson said. "It is one way to evaluate my team, however I prefer to evaluate how we do in single games."

Gunn opened its season with a 14-8 victory over Wilcox. The Titans (1-0, 1-0 entering Thursday's game against Mountain View) lost SCVAL co-MVPs Christian Znidarsic and Calder Hilde-Jones to graduation but return first-team all-league players Jackson Waschura and Jack Mallory.

Gunn opens competition Friday against St. Ignatius at 3 p.m. at Menlo's pool. The Titans will play either La Jolla or Half Moon Bay later in the day before placement games start Saturday.

Palo Alto, which beat host Los Gatos, 10-8, in its league opener, open the Roche Invitational against St. Francis at 1:55 p.m. The Vikings (1-0, 1-1) played at Monta Vista on Thursday.

"At the end of Saturday we will have already played seven games, plus one scrimmage," Paly coach Aaron Johnson said. "I will be able to learn a lot about this team as a whole, and the individuals that start to stand out as we progress through things."

Jared Stanley recorded four goals and Jack Anderson added three for Palo Alto against the Wildcats.

The Knights improved to 3-0 with their 20-3 victory over visiting Mills on Wednesday.

Noah Housenbold led Menlo with four goals. Niko Bhatia, Scott Little, Gary Marston and Sam Untrecht each added three goals as nine different Knights scored.

Menlo opened the season with a 9-6 victory over St. Francis last Friday and bested defending North Coast Section champion Campolindo, 12-10, in overtime on Saturday.

"This start to our season shows a lot of heart," Menlo coach Jack Bowen said of Saturday's contest. "We were down early to a very strong, very physical team. A lot of teams would have folded and, instead, this group of guys really believed in each other and in our system and came out with a lot of heart. Knowing the character of this team, I'm not surprised by this, but I also don't take it for granted. It's amazingly motivating."

Sophomore Sam Untrecht scored seven goals, many from passes by senior Ben Wagner, who led the team with four assists.

Tiago Bonchristiano came on strong following a tough first quarter, stopping 21 shots for the Knights.

"Tiago solidified himself as one of the top goalies in the country," Bowen said. "Blocking 21 shots in an overtime game against a team of that caliber, and with many of them exceptionally difficult shots: this was really impressive."

Menlo, which finished fifth in the tournament last year after winning the 2014 title, takes on Oak Ridge, from El Dorado Hills in the tournament opener at noon.

The Trojans (11-9 last year, 1-3 at the Roche Invite) will be playing their first match of the year.

Menlo-Atherton, with first-year coach Brandon Johnson, the former Paly coach and Gunn grad, opened its league season with a 15-1 pounding of Hillsdale. The Bears (1-0, 3-2) graduated three all-league seniors last year but have a solid goalie in Noah Smith. They play Valley Christian at home at 1 p.m. Friday.

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Like this comment
Posted by WoPoFan
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2016 at 2:29 pm

No surprise here: SHP and Menlo will again be the tops in the section. In all of Nor Cal. The consistency from these two programs is amazing. Would love to see more cross-section competition, some great potential for games there.

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