The Sacred Heart Prep boys and girls water polo teams both advanced to the semifinals of the Central Coast Section Open Division tournament with victories on Saturday.
The Menlo School boys join the Gators in an all-West Catholic Athletic League semifinal, which will be held at Sacred Heart Prep on Wednesday. The Knights (20-8) meet Bellarmine (16-11) at 5:30 p.m. and the Gators (21-6) take on St. Francis (18-10) at 7 p.m. in a replica of the WCAL tournament.
In Division I, the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division is assured of a team in the championship as No. 6 seed Menlo-Atherton topped No. 3 seed Palo Alto 13-4. The Bears (13-12) host No. 2 seed Woodside, which edged Wilcox 5-4, at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Wildcats (19-6) beat M-A twice this year, each time by one goal. Top-seeded Leland (16-11) plays No. 4 Mitty (11-16) at 5:30 p.m.
The Santa Clara Valley Athletic League have all four teams in the semifinals of the girls Division I tournament. Top-seed Gunn (18-6) had little trouble with No. 8 Santa Teresa, beating the Saints 16-1 in their home pool. Palo Alto (10-15) beat Mountain View 11-9 in overtime to advance and will take on host Gunn at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Santa Clara (21-1), the SCVAL El Camino Division champion, beat Menlo-Atherton 9-5 to advance and play No. 2 Los Altos at 5:30 p.m. at Gunn.
The SHP girls (23-3) get the early game in the Open Division semifinals at St. Francis, taking on Soquel at 5:30 p.m. The Lancers (19-7) meet defending CCS Open Division champion Leland (16-11) at 7 p.m.
Leland beat Menlo School (15-10), 18-11, and St. Francis topped Castilleja (15-10), 10-5, in first round games Saturday.
Unlike other sports with an Open Division, first round losers are not guaranteed of advancing beyond CCS. Despite being rated one of the top seven teams in the CCS, Menlo and Castilleja cannot compete in the NorCal tournament.
The SHP boys never trailed, though the game was tied several times before the Gators broke free with a flurry of six unanswered goals over a 12:19 period to pull comfortably ahead en route to a 15-8 win over Soquel.
Jake Tsotadze scored four goals and had two assists for SHP. Isaac Rotenberg added three goals and three assists. Luke Johnston and Luke Weigle each scored three times and had an assist. Jack Vort added three assists while Griff Price made 10 saves and Wyatt Stenson added a pair.
Menlo took a 6-1 halftime lead and kept adding on in beating Santa Cruz 15-8. Connor MacMitchell scored five goals and Noah Housenbold added four to lead the Knights. Connor Enright scored twice and had five assists. Josh Poulos and Zayd Mahmoud combined to make 11 saves.
The Knights reached their third straight Open Division semifinal and faces Bellarmine for the third time. With Menlo now in the WCAL, the teams will be meeting for the third time this season. Bellarmine won the first meeting in sudden death overtime and the Knights cam,e back to edge the Bells by a goal in the WCAL tournament. Under Jack Bowen, Menlo is 10-10 all-time against Bellarmine.
"It's just so fun to have a competitor who you know is going to battle you, year in and year out," said Bowen. "There's a chess match aspect to it and you know it's just going to be a great game. I'm really looking forward to this one in particular. On top of all that, I'm really proud of how my team has improved over the course of the year and has been peaking now that we're at playoff time. It's so fun to be a coach at this level and at this time of the year."
Michael Heller scored seven goals as Menlo-Atherton outscored the Vikings 9-2 in the second half. Jake Blohm, Sonny Watkins and Zach de Haaff each added a pair of goals.
The Sacred Heart girls scored the first five goals and were in control against Mitty. The Gators took a 13-5 lead into the fourth period.
Ashley Penner scored three goals, recorded three steals and had an assist for SHP. Ella Woodhead added three goals while Bella Bachler scored twice with two assists. Alexandra Szczerba and Eleanor Facey each scored twice. Margot Gibbons added three assists and Annabel Facey had two.
Lexi Triantis and Talula Seale each scored twice in Castilleja's loss to the Lancers. Sutchie Ofori-Nyako made eight saves.
Sacred Heart Prep took its 25-12, 25-22, 25-14 loss to West Bay Athletic League rival Harker in the Central Coast Section Division IV championship match just like it did after any match. Learn what you can from it and move on.
The Gators lost in the CCS finals two years ago and ended up reaching the state championship match. They're in a better position now to do so than they were in 2017.
Sacred Heart Prep's season continues at home as the top seed in the NorCal Division III bracket.
"We showed glimpses of what we're able to do," Gators coach Allison Magner said. "We didn't play well and Harker was exceptional. We'll get back to it and get ready for what's ahead. I wouldn't want to coach any other group than this one."
The Eagles were particularly effective at the net, blocking balls that would normally reach the court. They held the Gators to a .040 hitting percentage, though Santa Clara-bound Elena Radeff hit .280 and accumulated 11 kills in 25 attacks. Sophomore Millie Muir was limited to 19 assists but did lead the team with eight digs. Senior Leia Bonifacio added seven digs and junior Sarah Lin and senior Evelyn Sutton each added six.
Woodside placed second in both boys and girls races at the Peninsula Athletic League Championships on Saturday on the 2.95-mile Crystal Springs course in the hills above Belmont. Menlo-Atherton was fifth in the boys race and third in the girls race.
M-A's Jackson Gosler edged Woodside's Ethan Brooks, each finishing 16:40, for eighth place. The Wildcats, with 76 points, had six runners finish among the top 25. In addition to Gosler, on Jed Alvarez (16th in 16:52) ran as well.
Casey Orton was 11th in 16:45, Taylor Roe placed 14th in 16:50, Nathan Bowman finished 18th in 16:56 and Daniel Longo edged teammate Ronan Morrill by ,03 seconds for 24th, 17:19 to 17:22.
Woodside's Elise Arana plaved second overall with a time of 18:39, 18 seconds behind the winner and 16 seconds ahead of the third-place finisher. Sarah Perry placed eighth, .01 seconds out of seventh and Elle Marsyla was 12th in 20:22. M-A's Madeleine Boyle was ninth in 20:10. She was followed by teammates Katriona Briggs (20:45) in 18th and Kendall Olesen (20:47) in 19th.
The CCS Championships are also at Crystal Springs, beginning with the girls Division I race at 10 a.m., Saturday.