Sacred Heart Prep, Castilleja heading into tourney semifinals


The Sacred Heart Prep girls' water polo team has a rematch with Soquel and Castilleja gets another chance against St. Francis at the Amanda MacDonald Invitational after both teams won twice on opening day Friday.

SH Prep swamped Mercy Burlingame, 19-5, and beat Acalanes, 14-7, to advance into Saturday morning's semifinal against Soquel. The Gators (6-3) edged the Knights, 7-5, at the St. Francis Invitational earlier in the season, one of only two losses suffered by Soquel (9-2).

Castilleja (6-1) had a tougher time reaching the semis. The Gators opened with an 8-1 victory over Half Moon Bay and then needed overtime to down Drake, 6-4. The Lancers (6-0) ended Castilleja's season last year in the semis of the CCS Division II tournament.

“We plan on getting back into that position, and this will be good practice,” Castilleja sophomore Claire Pisani said. “We don't get a chance to play them very often and this is an opportunity to see how we're going.”

Pisani made one of the two goals in overtime. Madison Lewis put the Gators ahead 5-4 with a goal and Pisani skipped one in just as the first overtime ended.

“When Madison scored, we used that as momentum,” Pisani said. “We kind of let Georgia down in the fourth quarter and knowing she would be in the sun again, I didn't think the one goal would be enough.”

That's Georgia Lewis, who recorded 11 saves. The sun was directly in her face during the fourth quarter and second overtime. Drake, which beat Menlo-Atherton, 9-6, in overtime earlier in the day, scored all four of its goals in the fourth period.

As it turned out, Lewis was up to the task and was flawless in overtime.

For Pisani, hitting the buzzer-beater allowed her to regain whatever confidence she lost in missing a penalty shot.

“That got me back into it,” Pisani said. “We focused on defense but we mostly lost it in the fourth quarter. We worked on that in overtime.”

Sacred Heart Prep got scoring from a variety of sources. Maddie Pendolino and Zoe Zaharias each netted four goals in the win over Mercy, while Maddy Johnston had six and Claire Kerrigan two in the win over Acalanes.

Layla Waters scored three times in each contest, while Addi Duvall added a pair against the Crusaders. The Gators have won five straight.

After losing to Drake, M-A (5-3) came back to beat Half Moon Bay, 8-3.

“We've done a good job of making adjustments,” Bears coach Kelsey Holshouser said. “We're focusing on league and this tournament is a nice way to get us ready.”

The Bears host Menlo School in a pivotal league match on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The host Knights dropped two games Friday, losing to Mitty, 9-6, and to Sobrato, 15-9. Annie Bisconti and Chloe Ebrahiman each scored a pair of goals in the second game.

Boys water polo

Menlo School looks to remain undefeated on the season when it plays East Bay power De La Salle on Saturday at the St. Francis tournament.

The Knights (8-0) opened play Friday with a 12-8 victory over Redwood and then downed Las Lomas, 14-2.

“This team is playing very well together,” Menlo coach Jack Bowen said. “And the key word is ‘together.’”

Ten different Menlo players reached the scoring column on the day, led by junior Niko Bhatia with eight. Goalie Tiago Bonchristiano, who played just the first half of each game, allowed two goals and again led the team in assists with five. Ben Rosenblatt had four saves in each game.

“We’re playing together a team because we really trust each other,” Menlo co-captain Scott Little said. “Both on defense and then on offense, the entire approach is based on a foundation of trust.”

Sacred Heart Prep, competing in the Elite Eight tournament at Harvard-Westlake, won its first two games, 13-10 over Loyola and 11-8 over Cathedral Catholic.

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