Mikaela Wayne and Kara Jacobsen each scored three goals and the Gunn High girls water polo team rebounded from its first SCVAL De Anza Division loss to beat rival Palo Alto, 11-0, Tuesday night and maintain control of its own destiny.
The big test comes Thursday, when the Titans (6-1 in De Anza play, 10-2 overall) visit defending Central Coast Section Division I champion Los Gatos (5-1, 7-1) at the 3:30 p.m. for sole possession of first place.
"Los Gatos is our second biggest rivalry behind Palo Alto," Gunn junior goalie Zoe Banks said. "It's important for us to have our heads in the game. There's no one player that carries the entire team. We don't worry when the subs are in. They do great. Everybody is capable of kicking butt."
The Wildcats won 25 of 28 games last year en route to the title and their only loss this season was at Gunn, 7-4, on Sept. 15. Los Gatos has outscored its opponents, 45-20, since then.
"They have smart players who are aggressive and who look to set the tempo," Titans' coach Mark Hernandez said. "We have to respond aggressively."
Gunn will also need to deal with Los Gatos' home-pool advantage. It can get loud there, with the crowd nearly on top of the pool.
"They draw crowds there," Hernandez said. "And it's always noisier than the size of the crowd."
The Titans split with Los Gatos last year, with both teams winning at home. Gunn (14-13 last year) is much better prepared to challenge the Wildcats, who finished second to Los Altos in the SCVAL last year, this time around.
"Last year we had a big team and it was a good experience," Banks said. "It's great to have had a season where we got used to each other. It's great to have such a solid team."
The Titans produced a solid effort against the Vikings, who were unlucky on some shots and ran into a wall of Banks on others.
Palo Alto goalie Joanna Falla made some incredible saves, often in 1-on-1 situations. The game could have easily gotten out of hand early except for Falla's play.
On the other hand, Banks, who had eight saves, and an active defense deserved the shutout, though a couple of shots hit off the crossbar and posts. The Titans made several field blocks too.
Gunn's first goal was textbook. Sylvia Illouz, who scored twice herself, fired a bullet across the pool to a wide-open Jacobsen, who had no trouble slipping it into the net.
Wayne, with her sixth hat trick of the season, scored all three of her goals within a five-minute period spanning the second and third quarters.
Cooper McKenna, Michelle Fang and Georgia Hake also scored for the Titans.
Elsewhere, Maddy Johnston scored five goals and Nadia Paquin added a pair but Sacred Heart Prep fell to host Miramonte, 12-8, in a nonleague match Tuesday.