Sports

Sacred Heart Prep boys water polo rank among best in the nation

 

To highlight that Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School played in the Central Coast Section Division II championship game Saturday at Independence High is a disservice to the two programs.

Like big deal.

CCS Division II? The two neighboring schools from Atherton are the best two teams in the CCS, as well as the best two teams in Northern California.

Nationally?

“Sacred Heart Prep is probably about number four nationally,’’ Menlo coach Jack Bowen said. “Menlo, probably about number 10.’’

So now you get an idea regarding the magnitude of these two programs.

Sacred Heart Prep won the game, 13-9, for its sixth consecutive CCS championship and ninth in the last 10 years.

That one year the Gators fell short, Menlo won the CCS title in 2010.

Then, take a look over on the girls side, where SHP won its 10th consecutive CCS title Saturday and you realize to what degree the sport of prep water polo has become such an Athertonian dominion.

Menlo (27-3) had a very good team this year and Bowen was hoping for a breakthrough in the final.

But the Gators (27-6) were clearly the superior team. They jumped out to an early 3-0 lead only to see Menlo fight back to tie it 5-5 at the half.

Then they came out with a fresh dose of power and speed to start the second half with a four-goal blitz. And this time Menlo did not recover.

“The strength of our team is our speed, size and strength,’’ SHP coach Brian Kreutzkamp said. “When I talked to the team I compared this game with a fight. We wanted to get into the later rounds and use our conditioning.’’

Sophomore Larsen Weigle led Sacred Heart Prep (27-6) with four goals. Alex Tsotadze scored three, but Kreutzkamp said his team’s offensive opportunities started with the double teaming Menlo was forced to do on hole player Jackson Enright.

The team’s depth is a big reason for its success.

“We came out fresh at the start of the game and got them in foul trouble,’’ Kreutzkamp said. “Then in the third quarter I came in with four guys who had been resting for four minutes and ready to go. We talked about this game all year.’’

Menlo erased its early deficit and pulled even on a power-play goal with 45 seconds left in the second quarter.

Weigle scored to give the Gators the lead before Menlo sophomore Sam Untrecht converted an incredible skip shot from long range as time expired.

“Untrecht gave us fits,’’ Kreutzkamp said. “That shot he made, a lot of teams would’ve folded up right there.’’

Not the Gators, not on this day.

CCS Division I

Menlo-Atherton junior goalkeeper Noah Smith recorded 12 saves in Saturday's 12-2 loss to Bellarmine in the championship game and was, easily, the Bears' most valuable player.

Nick Caryotakis and Ilia Dzotsenidze each scored a goal for Menlo-Atherton (16-15), which reached the finals in a year that saw the team develop in leaps and bounds after returning two starters.

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