Gunn girls’ water polo coach Chris Ford likes his team’s chances this year, despite having to replace five seniors, including one of the top two or three players in the Central Coast Section.
“Losing Cooper McKenna is a huge loss,” Ford said on a day the Titans opened their season with a 12-1 victory over visiting Menlo-Atherton. “But we still have Kate (Mallery, a fourth-year starter) and several other starters.”
Mallery, who will attend and play at Princeton in the fall, is one of four seniors playing for Gunn this year. Co-captain Molly Wilkinson, Melanie Julia and Hannah Schendel are the others.
Julia may be better known for helping the Gunn girls swimming team win a CCS title, but that’s a positive in itself.
“We have new players starting for us and we’re looking for big things out of them,” said Ford, who led Gunn to its first ever girls CCS Division I championship last season. “We had a big turnout, including 12 freshmen, two with playing experience.”
Wilkinson never touched a water polo ball until she was a freshman and Ford likes to use her as a model for what someone can accomplish.
“She worked her way into a starting position and now she’s a captain (with Mallery),” Ford said.
Gunn and Los Gatos shared the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League title last year and will likely be in the mix again this year, along with Los Altos, which reached the CCS DI semifinals. Los Gatos played in the Open Division.
But the league got a little bit stronger with the addition of Castilleja, a perennial title contender in the Peninsula Athletic League which happens to be coached by water polo legend Brenda Villa, a Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist.
Castilleja defeated host Mountain View, 11-2, in its SCVAL debut, Tuesday.
M-A and Gunn were tied at 1-1, thanks to a goal from Bears’ Viviana Luna, when Mallery, Kenza Ashworth and Siham Arsalane scored in quick succession to end the first quarter.
Mallery finished with five goals and was a force on defense, who combined with goalie Jayden Kratt to keep M-A out of the net the final 24 minutes of play.
Ashworth had three goals and Arsalane netted two. Wilkinson, who had assists on four of the seven first-half goals, and freshman Nina Albers also scored.
The junior varsity match, which opened the day, had its own highlight moments. Gunn won, 9-5, but M-A played with enthusiasm. Yaritz Elondo scored all five goals for the Bears. Adele Davis led the Titans with four.
In Mountain View, Lexi Triantis scored three goals to lead Castilleja (2-0, 1-0), which hosts Palo Alto on Thursday afternoon.
The Gators led at halftime, 7-1. Annika Burks, Syd Lowell and Anjali Kambham each added a pair of goals. Gabby Lewis and Serafina Cortez also scored and goalie Abena Ofori-Nyako recorded nine saves.
Castilleja also won the JV game, 9-1, as Izzy Bider, Caitlin Chau and Janet Meng each scored twice.
Gunn continued unbeaten in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 2-0 victory over host Los Gatos on Tuesday.
Palo Alto, on Senior Day, made sure it would not go winless, beating visiting Santa Clara, 2-1, with goals from Leo Malchin and Jason Majors. The Vikings (1-7-3) are on the road Friday.
Dane Jefferson opened the scoring for the Titans, scoring in the first half after taking a pass by Maxime Bromberg.
In the second half, sophomore Gabe Hutt scored, with an assist by Jefferson.
Goalkeeper Joaquim Bonnet made several key saves to keep the Wildcats scoreless.
Gunn (9-0-1) hosts Homestead in its Senior Day on Friday.
Kyle Nilsson scored a goal and assisted on another in helping Sacred Heart Prep down host Priory, 4-1, in a WBAL match Tuesday.
Nilsson assisted on Thomas Sullivan’s goal, which gave the Gators the early lead.
After Priory tied it with a penalty kick, Carlos Deras responded with a goal, assisted by Sam Shepard.
Nilsson opened the second half with a goal, assisted by Chase Dolinko and Tristan Mischke-Reeds finished the scoring, with an assist from Luca Suarez.
Menlo School opened its WBAL season with a 9-0 victory over visiting Crystal Springs Uplands on Tuesday.
The Knights received hat tricks from seniors Tor Micaelian and Chris Corcoran, who also assisted on one of Micaelian's goals.
Juniors Jonah Blaydes-Greenberg scored and assisted on a goal, and Emilio Velten-Lomelin notched a goal and added three assists. Senior Peter Gray and junior Colin Thomas shared in the shutout.
Carly Martin scored 18 points, recorded four steals and blocked a shot but Palo Alto fell to host Los Altos, 46-44, in a Santa Clara Valley Athletic League opener Tuesday.
Annika Shah added 16 points for the Vikings, who host Los Altos on Friday.
Paly had a shot just miss at the buzzer.
Jessica Fiske led Paly with eight rebounds. Martin and Elif Turgut combined for another eight.
Mollie Kuelker scored 14 points (on 7-of-11 shooting) and Gunn won its SCVAL opener, 33-28, Tuesday over Fremont.
Gunn was up as much as 12 points with four minutes left when Kuelker fouled out. Zara Wang and Carmel Tong, who combined for 13 points, helped hold off the Firebirds the rest of the way.
Gunn did not score a field goal over the final four minutes of its game against host Fremont but managed to hold onto a 49-46 SCVAL season opening victory.
Gavin Kitch led the Titans with 18 points, Yotam Elazar added 15. Jack Hakeman and Luke McFaul also hit big shots for the Titans.
Fremont outscored Gunn, 7-3, over the final minutes and then missed a 3-point attempt as time expired.
Just over a year after playing in the CCS Division III championship game, Menlo opened its WBAL season with an 8-0 win over visiting Mercy-Burlingame on Tuesday.
Junior Carolina Espinosa converted a penalty kick less than two minutes into the match and it was all Menlo.
In the first half, senior Stella El-Fishawy added two consecutive goals on assists by Gabby Kogler and finished with five goals.
Espinosa added another goal to start the second half and assisted on another for the Knights.
Ellie El-Fishawy, a sophomore, distributed three assists, including one to her sister Stella. Junior Ayla Seddignezhad got the shutout.
Sydney Adas and Megan Tinsley each scored and Sacred Heart Prep opened its WBAL season with a 2-0 victory over visiting Priory on Tuesday.
Juliana Rosen assisted on Adas’ goal in the eighth minute and Ellie Brew assisted Tinsley in the 79th minute.
Palo Alto fell to host Santa Clara, 1-0, in a SCVAL contest Tuesday. The Vikings (1-4-3) host Mountain View on Thursday.
Gunn honored its seniors Lauryn Nakamitsu, Morgan Cianfichi, Haley Parrett, Annah Turner, and Vivian Becker, during a pregame ceremony, but lost to first place Los Gatos, 2-0, Tuesday. The Titans (5-4-2) travel to Homestead on Friday.
Gunn downed visiting Fremont, 5-2, in a SCVAL match Tuesday. The Titans swept the doubles matches and earned from No. 2 singles Colin Chan and No. 3 singles Isaac Wang.
Zach Chang-Otanez and Boris Bukchin each recorded 10 kills and Gunn beat visiting The King’s Academy, 11-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-20 in its season opener Tuesday. Sebastian Caldera had 37 assists.
Gunn lost at Homestead, 25-19, 25-18, 33-35, 25-15, in a SCVAL match Tuesday.
Overall, Gunn won seven of the 10 sporting events it played Tuesday.