Lacrosse playoffs just a tuneup for the finales

WBAL and SCVAL championships will be decided for boys and girls

The high school lacrosse season is heading into its final week, with playoff matches setting up championship showdowns this weekend.

The girls' West Bay Athletic League and Santa Clara Valley Athletic League playoffs are all set and will feature five local teams -- Menlo, Sacred Heart Prep, Castilleja, Menlo-Atherton and Palo Alto.

Palo Alto, which won the SCVAL title, earned the No. 1 seed in the SCVAL playoffs and will host No. 4 Leland on Wednesday at 4 p.m. In the other semifinal, Los Gatos and St. Francis will meet.

The semifinal winners will advance to the championship match on Saturday at Palo Alto High at 11 a.m. The WBAL title match also is set for Paly as a part of a big doubleheader that begins with the WBAL finals at 9 a.m.

The WBAL semifinals get under way Tuesday. Castilleja will take on Menlo-Atherton on the Bears' field (5:30 p.m.), even though the Gators are seeded higher. That winner will face No. 1 Menlo on the Knights' field on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., while the Burlingame-Notre Dame-San Jose winner will visit Sacred Heart Prep at the same time. The later starting times are due to AP testing.

In the boys' SCVAL playoffs, Menlo is the No. 1 seed while Palo Alto is seeded No. 5. the Vikings will open play on Tuesday at No. 4 Burlingame while No. 6 Woodside is at No. 3 Los Gatos. If Woodside and Paly win, the Vikings will play at Mountain View on Thursday. If Los Gatos and Paly win, then the Vikings will face Menlo in the semifinals.

The site and time of the championship match has not yet been announced.

The Menlo boys (10-0, 14-5) wrapped up a perfect league season in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 12-2 romp over host Saratoga on Saturday. Kyle Bullington led the Knights with four goals and three assists while David Lee helped control the offense by winning 11 of 13 faceoffs.

The Palo Alto boys finished its SCVAL El Camino Division with a 9-1 record (14-5 overall) by defeating crosstown rival Gunn, 11-6, last Thursday night. The Titans finished their season 6-4 in league (6-10 overall). Both teams were in their first season of competition. Zach Spain led the Vikings with four goals and two assists while Kris Hoglund added three goals and one assist with John Brunett contributing two goals and three assists.

Menlo-Atherton saw its season end with an 8-7 overtime loss to host Mountain View. Zander Rohn scored three goals and Pierce Osgood added two for the Bears (2-8, 6-8).

In the girls' final regular-season matches:

Menlo School, which has accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish in the sport, continued its string of futility against St. Ignatius by dropping an 18-16 overtime decision in nonleague play Saturday.

Menlo (15-4) had hoped to end its 10-years drought against the Wildcats (13-5), ranked No. 1 in the Central Coast Section, by playing its best lacrosse of the season. The No. 2-ranked Knights trailed only twice during regulation and held a 16-13 lead with 9:23 to play. The Knights' 16th goal, by sophomore Kacie Madeira, however was the team's last. SI scored with 7:24 left and again with 2:23 to play before getting the tying goal with just 1:18 remaining to sent it to overtime.

Menlo goalie Hannah Rubin blanked SI in the first three-minute OT period but SI scored just 16 seconds into the second to take a 17-16 lead. The Wildcats sealed the deal with another goal with 1:41 to play.

Menlo senior tri-captain Maggie Brown led the way with seven goals and one assist while Rubin, who began playing goalie less than two months ago, came up with 12 big saves. Senior Mila Sheeline added two goals as did freshman Michaela Michael and Madeira.

Palo Alto wrapped up first place in the SCVAL with a 14-1 drubbing of home Gunn on Friday. Sam Herzog scored four goals for the Vikings (10-2, 14-4). Charlotte Biffar and Maya Fielder both added two goals each.

In a WBAL Foothill Division finale, Menlo-Atherton had its highest offensive output of the season but it still wasn't enough as Stephanie Merenbach scored eight goals and had four assists to lead Castilleja to an 18-16 victory in overtime on Friday.

The match was tied at 16 at the end of regulation, thanks to a goal by junior Charlotte-Geaghan-Breiner with two seconds left in regulation. Merenbach and sophomore Martha Harding each scored in the three-minute overtime periods to secure the victory. Rebecca Higgitt scored five goals for the Bears (0-8, 4-14), who still qualified for the WBAL playoffs along with the Gators (2-6, 5-7).

Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, clinched the No. 2 seed for the WBAL playoffs with a 14-12 victory over host Burlingame on Friday. SP and Burlingame finished with the same league record (5-3), but the Gators received a higher seed based on goal differential in their two matches.

The teams were tied at halftime, 7-7, but the Gators (5-3, 14-9) scored two quick goals for a 9-7 lead before Burlingame made it 9-8. A few minutes later it was another quick flurry of goals for an 11-10 match before SHP capitalized on some unforced errors by Burlingame to pull away. Senior Tory Wilkinson had four goals and one assist for SHP while teammate Caroline Hoskinson added three goals and goalie Victoria Denholm made some key saves.

-- Palo Alto Online Sports

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