It took the Menlo School boys water polo team 21 years to finally get the job done and in doing so, wrote itself into the school's record book.
Senior Sam Untrecht came up big for Menlo, scoring five goals to help the Knights beat Buchanan, 11-9, in Saturday's championship game of the Scott Roche Invitational.
Buchanan ended Menlo's season a year ago, beating the Knights 5-4 in the Division I Northern California Championships. That made Saturday's win taste even sweeter as Menlo became the first team to win the Invitational three straight years.
“I’m excited about what we did this weekend,” said Menlo coach Jack Bowen. “We channeled the spirit of the tournament’s namesake, Scott Roche, and we played for our teammates and had fun doing it. Our goal is to ‘Be Your Best’ and we certainly accomplished that this weekend. I’m just so proud of this entire group of young men."
The tournament has always held a special place in Menlo's season. It goes beyond playing a few games over the weekend and collecting a trophy.
Roche, who graduated from Menlo in 1990, was tragically killed in an automobile accident on Jan. 10, 1998 after playing at Menlo School and Princeton. He was the team captain at both schools.
Every year, his memory is invoked at special ceremonies surrounding the Invitational. Princeton honors him with the Scott A.C. Roche '94 Memorial Water Polo Award, presented annually to a senior player who "led with energy and determination, intense competitive spirit and a contagious love of the game, and is presented by Scott's family and friends," according to a Princeton press release.
Untrecht scored 16 goals, had 13 steals and earned seven ejections in the tournament. He and Connor Enright each recorded seven assists and Greg Hilderbrand led the team in shot-blocking.
Menlo (5-1) was able to use both of its goalkeepers extensively, with sophomore Zayd Mahmoud recording 11 saves and allowing five goals and junior Josh Poulos continuing to assert himself as one of the top goalies in the section.
Poulos recorded 25 of his 32 saves on Saturday. He allowed 19 goals (4.75 per game) and contributed five assists.
The Knights travel to Hillsdale for a 4 p.m. Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division game on Wednesday before returning to tournament action at the St. Francis Invitational next weekend.
Menlo-Atherton finished 12th in the 16-team tournament, losing to St. Ignatius 13-7 and to Granite Bay 13-9. The Bears (2-4) have a league bye this week.