The Sacred Heart Prep boys' water polo team lost eight players, including its starting goalie, to graduation from last season's team that went 24-5 and captured a third straight Central Coast Section Division II championship.
Convention would say that 2010 would be a rebuilding year for Gators. Convention, however, is not on Sacred Heart Prep's schedule this season.
Despite the obvious loss of talent, the Gators are off to a 2-0 record after swamping visiting Serra, 17-9, in a West Catholic Athletic League opener on Wednesday. The match originally was scheduled for Thursday.
Senior Philip Bamberg, one of four returning players from last season, led the Gators with seven goals while fellow senior Robert Dunlevie added four. That one-two punch was enough to knock out the Padres, who trailed after one quarter (5-1) and at the half (8-3). A seven-goal explosion by SHP in the third period blew the match open. Sophomore goalie Will Runkel had nine saves for the Gators.
Sacred Heart Prep next will compete in the CCS-NCS Challenge, a mammoth 32-team tournament being held at four sites around the Bay Area. The Gators, who are the defending champions, open play Friday against Monte Vista (Danville) at Campolindo High in Moraga at 2 p.m. That winner will face the De La Salle-Serra winner at 5 p.m.
Menlo School will open at noon against host Campolindo, with a victory by the Knights matching them against either Acalanes or Leland. Should both Menlo and SHP win twice on Friday, they will face each other in the semifinals on Saturday at St. Francis High at 11 a.m.
The Sacred Heart Prep girls, meanwhile, opened its WCAL season with a 17-3 dunking of visiting Notre Dame-Belmont on Wednesday. That match also was moved up a day.
The Gators (1-0, 5-1) had balanced scoring with seven players tallying two goals each -- P.J. Bigley, Kate Bocci, Bridgette Harper, Colleen Nawn, Erin Sheridan, Pippa Temple and Sarah Westcott.
Like the SHP boys, the Gators also will be busy in tournament action this week. SHP will open the 16th annual Amanda MacDonald Invitational on Friday by hosting Buchanan at 1 p.m. The Gators also will play Soquel at 3:10 p.m., with a victory over them into Saturday's semifinals at SHP. The championship match will be played at Menlo School at 1:30 p.m., and will be followed by the third- and fifth-place games.
Sacred Heart Prep got the best of rival Menlo School, 214-247, in a West Bay Athletic League dual match on Wednesday at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club.
The Gators (2-0, 3-0) were led by junior Kennedy Shields and sophomore Emma Dake, both of whom shot 5-over-par 40s. Dake chipped in for an eagle on the final hole to record her career-low round for nine holes on the par 35 course.
Rachael Henry added a 42 for SHP, which next will play Mercy-Burlingame on Monday at Sharon Heights Country Club.
In another WBAL match, senior Brenna Nelsen shot a 2-over 38 to win medalist honors while leading Castilleja (234) to a victory over host Mercy-Burlingame (309) at Crystal Springs. Sarah Debs added a 44 for the Gators (2-0).