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SHP girls register breakthrough lacrosse win

Gators improve to 8-1 with their first-ever triumph over Menlo-Atherton

The Sacred Heart Prep girls' lacrosse team has taken its lumps since the program began a few years ago. During that time, the Gators always were on the short end of their matches with Menlo-Atherton.

That streak of futility ended Tuesday when Sacred Heart Prep posted a 13-6 victory in a West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) showdown on the Gators' field. Sacred Heart improved to 1-1 in league (8-1 overall) while Menlo-Atherton fell to 0-3 (3-8).

The triumph had to be satisfying for SHP senior Tori Wilkinson, who had yet to beat the Bears until Tuesday. She helped the cause by scoring six goals and assisting on others. Prior to Tuesday, the current SHP seniors had been 0-5 against Menlo-Atherton, dating to the 2007 season.

The Gators also lost twice in league play to M-A in 2006 and in '05, Sacred Heart Prep's first season of play. Thus, the Gators were 0-9 lifetime against the Bears until Tuesday.

Menlo-Atherton shocked the Gators by scoring in the first 10 seconds of the match, but SHP bounced back quickly behind goals from Wilkinson and Caroline Hoskinson, who finished with two goals. Julia Keller and Kate Lonergan also tallied twice with Michelle Gonia scoring once.

Christina Rodgers and Caroline Edwards had two goals each for the Bears while Katie Kelly and Becca Higgitt added a goal apiece.

Sacred Heart's only loss this season was to perennial powerhouse Menlo, but that was a thrilling 16-15 overtime setback. Those teams will meet again on April 23.

Menlo remained atop the division standings at 3-0 (10-3 overall) with a 21-7 blasting of visiting Castilleja (0-2, 3-3) on Tuesday.

Maggie Brown led the Knights with six goals while fellow senior Mila Sheeline added four. Freshman Michaela Michael contributed three. Martha Harding led Castilleja with three goals while Stephanie Merenbach added two.

Menlo started strong with four unanswered goals in the first 19 minutes, two by Brown and once each by Michael and Kacie Madeira. Harding scored her second goal with 8:33 left in the first half to bring the Gators to within 7-3.

During the next 1:12, however, Menlo scored three straight goals for a 10-3 lead and the Knights pulled away for a 13-4 halftime bulge.

Castilleja added goals from Harding, Natalie Morin and Charlotte Geaghan-Breiner in the second half but Menlo had the match under control all the way. Freshmen Brooke Bullington and Ali Kim contributed two goals each for the Knights.

Menlo will visit Burlingame in league play on Thursday before heading into the annual Western States Invitational on Saturday, this year being played on Treasure Island in San Francisco while the fields at Stanford are being redone.

Baseball

Menlo tuned up for its WBAL opener on Friday at Sacred Heart Prep with a 3-2 victory over visiting Redwood Christian in 13 innings on Tuesday. The game originally was scheduled for April 1 in San Leandro.

The Knights (10-5) got a walk off home run from sophomore Dylan Mayer leading off the bottom of the 13th for the deciding run.

It was a pitching battle early on as Redwood Christian's AJ Vanegas, a Stanford signee who throws consistently around 90 mph, battled Menlo sophomore Jake Batchelder. Vanegas lasted seven innings, allowing only one hit with eight strikeouts. Batchelder pitched eight innings, allowing four hits with four strikeouts.

Despite pitching changes, the game remained scoreless until the 11th. With one out, the Eagles loaded the bases with a double, error and intentional walk. Vanegas then delivered a clutch two-run single.

Menlo responded in the bottom half of the inning, starting with a leadoff error. After two near-miss double plays, Matt Crowder singled to put runners at first and second. Junior first baseman Jake Bruml, who had 20 putouts in the field, delivered a triple to right center to tie the game.

That set the stage for Mayer's game-winning homer, that ended the 3-hour, 20-minute game.

Softball

With standout senior pitcher Sammy Albanese sitting out for undisclosed reasons, Castilleja suffered a 4-3 upset loss to host Menlo on Tuesday in a WBAL game. Albanese is the Gators' top pitcher and hitter and one of the top players in the Central Coast Section.

The loss was the Gators' first in league play and likely dropped them into a tie for first place with Mercy-Burlingame. Castilleja is now 3-1 in league (8-6-2 overall) after losing four games in the NorCal Classic in Tracy during the weekend. Albanese was on a senior trip to Southern California and missed the tourney. Perhaps, she did not play Tuesday because of that absence.

Also missing the tourney were Castilleja starting outfielders Tobi Amos (family emergency) and outfielder Catalina Rodriguez, who factured her right thumb in three places at practice last week.

Tuesday's loss was a costly one while moving Menlo (4-2, 6-2) into contention in the suddenly tight race.

Sophomore Aryana Yee took the mound in place of Albanese and suffered the loss, despite limiting the Knights to five hits. She also absorbed all four losses in the two-day tournament. Freshman Kelly McConnell picked up the win for Menlo, giving up two runs in the first but settling down after that. Rebecca Friedman's three-run homer in the second inning gave Menlo a 3-2 lead. McConnell scored the game-winner in the sixth.

Castilleja grabbed an early lead on RBI singles by Amy Yamamura and Annie Apffel.

In PAL Ocean Division action, Menlo-Atherton won its second straight game after 11 consecutive losses with a 15-0 blasting of host Jefferson on Tuesday.

The Bears (2-3, 2-11) were led by pitcher Tami Vujovich, who struck out 16 in the five-inning game while tossing a one-hitter. That one hit was a bunt single in the bottom of the fifth. The Bears did commit three errors, to ruin a near-perfect outing by Vujovich.

The Bears ripped 14 hits, with Seini MoiMoi getting three hits -- including a triple -- while driving in five runs. Katie Vallarino also had three hits (two of them doubles) with three RBI. Vujovich added two hits and two RBI as did Hannah Rosenfeld.

Boys' tennis

Menlo-Atherton remained perfect in PAL Bay Division play and for the season with a 7-0 romp over host Carlmont on Tuesday.

The Bears (9-0, 13-0), who moved closer to clinching the division title, lead second-place Burlingame by two matches with three to play. M-A can clinch no worse than a title tie by beating visiting San Mateo on Thursday.

Menlo-Atherton was at full strength for Carlmont and played solidly, despite having two matches to go three sets. Matt Menninger was pushed at No. 3 singles before winning, 6-2, 4-6, 10-8, while the No. 1 doubles team of Zeke Brown and Matt Giordano were stretched in a 6-2, 6-7, 10-8 victory.

Otherwise, it was business as usual for the Bears with Alex Haley, Alden Mitchell and Avi Shah winning singles matches in straight sets while twins Jesse and Christian Perkins swept at No. 2 doubles and Daniel Wyndam teaming with Richie Sarwall for a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 3.

In the WBAL, both Menlo and Sacred Heart Prep cruised to easy 7-0 victories.

The Knights (9-0, 16-0) played without their top seven players and still had plenty to topple visiting Priory. Menlo lost only four games in singles and six in singles.

The Gators (7-3, 8-6) swept all their matches in straight sets while blanking host Crystal Springs-Uplands.

Sacred Heart will host Menlo on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

-- Keith Peters with Jen Lee and Craig Schoof contributing.

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