By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
The Sacred Heart Prep boys and girls will make their final water polo tuneups this week before embarking on quests to win their fourth consecutive Central Coast Section championships.
The Sacred Heart Prep boys host a West Catholic Athletic League semifinal on Thursday at 4 p.m., while the Gator girls will play in a WCAL semifinal at St. Francis at 5:30 p.m. Both teams are expected to advance to their respective championship matches on Saturday at Sacred Heart Prep, the girls at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30 p.m.
Neither SHP team, however, came into this week with scintillating finishes at weekend tournaments. The girls went 2-2 and took fourth at the NorCal Championships on Saturday in Atherton while the boys went 3-1 and finished ninth at the Memorial Cup at Monta Vista High.
Both teams faced some of the top teams in the state during their respective two-day invitationals and hope to use those experiences to their advantage this week and into the CCS playoffs.
"We gained a lot of experience this weekend by playing against some of the best teams in Northern California," said SHP girls' coach Jon Burke. "These types of games are exactly what we were looking for going into the postseason. They provided us an opportunity to evaluate what is working well for us and what we may need to modify before the playoffs begin."
Things worked well on opening day as third-seeded Sacred Heart (21-3) rolled to a 16-3 win over Rio Americano and a 6-4 victor over Castilleja. Saturday's second day was a much different story as the Gators fell to Davis (8-5) and Clovis West (7-6), in overtime. Davis went on to win the tourney title with a 6-5 victory over previously unbeaten Monte Vista (Danville).
"We knew the Davis game was going to be physical and we played tough throughout its duration," Burke said. "They are the No. 1 team in Northern California and we thought we had a good chance of beating them. Our plan worked well, but we were unable to recover from the two goals we gave up early in the fourth quarter.
"Clovis West was the No. 4 seed and we were disappointed to have not won that game. We did not execute well and struggled to take advantage of some key opportunities we had offensively. The loss to Clovis West will help us refocus, play with more discipline, and work hard in practice the next couple of weeks."
Senior Emily Parsons and junior Pippa Temple each had 10 goals during the four-match tournament while SHP senior goalie Catherine Donahoe had 39 saves.
Elsewhere in the NorCal tourney, Menlo-Atherton (15-9) went 2-2 and finished seventh while Castilleja (15-9) finished 1-3 and took eighth.
Menlo-Atherton, the defending champion, perhaps played its best game during a 6-5 overtime loss to Monte Vista. Regulation ended at 4-4, with Monte Vista converting a 6-on-5 goal with 20 seconds left in the second overtime to secure the victory. M-A beat Castilleja for seventh place, 6-5. Senior goalie Emily Dorst had 67 saves in the four matches while fellow senior MJ O'Neill tallied eight goals, four coming against Monte Vista.
Castilleja was paced by seniors Barbara Peterson, Natasha von Kaeppler and Sayeh Bozorghadad, all with five goals.
At the Memorial Cup, the Sacred Heart Prep boys opened with an 11-10 loss to Harvard-Westlake, the No. 1-ranked team in Orange County. The Gators bounced back with a 12-7 win over Rio Americano. On Saturday, SHP defeated Mission Viejo, 11-7, before topping WCAL rival Bellarmine, 13-4, in the ninth-place game.
Philip Bamberg scored 19 goals for the Gators while fellow senior Robert Dunlevie added 13. Sophomore goalie Will Runkel had a career-high 21 saves in the win over Mission Viejo.
The Menlo School boys made their final tuneup before CCS with a 2-2 finish and 13th- place finish at the Memorial Cup. The Knights (15-9) finished strong with wins over Clovis West (12-5) and Rio American (13-7) after opening with tough losses to Coronado (8-4) and Jesuit (10-9 in overtime).
"Yeah, tough first rounds," said Menlo coach Jack Bowen. "But, then again, it's a tough tournament. That's why we enter it."
Menlo senior John Holland-McCowan had 15 goals after being blanked by Coronado and Nick Hale added nine goals, while goalie Keegan Williams had 35 saves.
In a CCS tuneup tournament at Gunn High, Menlo-Atherton (16-7) went 2-1 in the two-day event. The Bears opened with a 16-6 win over Tokay and added a 13-8 triumph over St. Ignatius before finishing off the tourney with an 11-5 victory over Monte Vista (Danville). Goalie Alex Gow had 26 saves for the Bears while Evan Navarro provided six goals. Nick Henze, Zach Deal, Max Wilder plus Graham and Evan McClelland all had standout efforts for M-A.
At the Mustang Oktoberfest tournament at Homestead High, Palo Alto went 3-0 with victories over Harbor (17-2), Lynbrook (15-12) and Harker (12-8). The Vikings (11-13) got 12 goals from sophomore Bret Pinsker, eight from Josh Rapperport and seven from Ken Wattana. Next up for the Vikings will be the SCVAL De Anza Division playoffs that begin Thursday at Paly.
The Vikings will open against No. 6 Los Gatos at 5:40 p.m., preceded by No. 4 Gunn against No. 5 Homestead at 4:20 p.m. The Gunn-Homestead winner will face No. 1 Los Altos on Friday in one semifinal at 6:10 p.m. The Palo Alto-Los Gatos winner will faced the Mountain View-Monta Vista winner in the other semifinal at 4:50 p.m. The championship match will be Saturday at 6 p.m.
In the girls' SCVAL De Anza Division playoffs at Gunn High, No. 3 Palo Alto will open Thursday against No. 6 Homestead at 5:35 p.m., followed by No. 2 Gunn vs. No. 7 Saratoga. Those winners will meet Friday at 4:15 p.m.. with the championship match set for Saturday at 6:20 p.m. Third place will be decided at 5 p.m.
2010 NORCAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friday, Oct. 29
At Sacred Heart Prep
Game 1 -- Davis vs. St. Mary's, 10:55 a.m.
Game 3 -- St. Francis (Mt. View) 8, Miramonte 7
Game 5 -- Sacred Heart Prep 16, Rio Americano 3
Game 7 -- Castilleja 8, Campolindo 7
Game 9 -- Miramonte 9, St. Mary's 7
Game 11 -- Davis 12, St. Francis (MV) 4
Game 13 -- Campolindo 14, Rio Americano 5
Game 15 -- Sacred Heart Prep 6, Castilleja 4
At Menlo-Atherton High
Game 2 -- Monte Vista 9, Buchanan 4
Game 4 -- Menlo-Atherton 8, Las Lomas 7
Game 6 -- St. Francis (Sacto.) 6, Clovis 5
Game 8 -- Clovis West 11, St. Ignatius 8
Game 10 -- Las Lomas 8, Buchanan 3
Game 12 -- Monte Vista 6, Menlo-Atherton 5
Game 14 -- Clovis 9, St. Ignatius 6
Game 16 -- Clovis West 8, St. Francis (Sac.) 5
Saturday, Oct. 30
At Sacred Heart Prep
Game 17 -- St. Francis (MV) 7, Castilleja 2
Game 19 -- St. Francis (MV) 8, Menlo-Atherton 5
Game 21 -- Davis 8, Sacred Heart Prep 5 (semifinal)
Game 23 -- Monte Vista 10, Clovis West 1 (semifinal)
Game 25 -- Menlo-Atherton 6, Castilleja 5 (7th place)
Game 27 -- St. Francis (MV) 4, St. Francis (Sac.) 2 (5th place)
Game 29 -- Clovis West 7, Sacred Heart Prep 6 (3rd place)
Game 31 -- Davis 6, Monte Vista 5 (championship)
Game 18 -- Rio Americano 3, St. Mary's 1
Game 20 -- St. Ignatius 9, Buchanan 4
Game 22 -- Campolindo 12, Miramonte 2
Game 24 -- Las Lomas 8, Clovis 7
Game 26 -- St. Marys 11, Buchanan 7 (15th place)
Game 28 -- Rio Americano 10, St. Ignatius 5 (13th place)
Game 30 -- Clovis 5, Miramonte 4 (11th place)
Game 32 -- Las Lomas 8, Campolindo 7 (9th place)
2010 -- Davis
2009 -- Menlo-Atherton
2008 -- Monte Vista
2007 -- Sacred Heart Prep
2006 -- Davis
2005 -- Sacred Heart Prep
2004 -- Monte Vista
2003 -- Davis