CCS water polo contenders get down to business in the playoff semifinals


The preliminaries are over for the Central Coast Section boys' and girls water polo tournaments as the No. 1 and 2 seeds in all four brackets advanced past the quarterfinals on Saturday and into this week's semifinals with little trouble.

In boys' Division I play, No. 1 St. Francis and No. 2 Bellarmine moved on with convincing victories over Gunn (20-3) and Palo Alto (12-4), respectively.

In boys' Division II action, No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep and No. 2 Menlo both qualified for the semifinals as the Gators won 19-9 and the Knights posted a 15-4 triumph.

In girls' Division I quarterfinal play, No. 1 Menlo-Atherton posted a 13-4 win over Sequoia while No. 2 Leland also won, 10-7.

And, in girls' Division II action, No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep rolled to an easy 13-5 triumph while No. 2 Los Altos cruised past Menlo School, 12-2.

Also advancing to the semifinals was Castilleja in girls' Division II and Gunn in girls' Division I. Now, things get a little more interesting.

On Tuesday at Lynbrook High in San Jose, the Sacred Heart Prep boys (18-9) will take on No. 4 Soquel (18-6) at 5:30 p.m. In the 7 p.m. showdown, Menlo School (16-9) will face No. 3 Los Altos (21-6). The winners will advance to Saturday's finals at Independence High in San Jose.

Soquel will have to find a way to stop SHP's one-two punch of seniors Philip Bamberg and Robert Dunlevie, who scored five and three goals, respectively, in the rout of Willow Glen on Saturday. Will Runkel was solid in goal with 14 saves. Ten players scored the Gators, who are the three-time defending CCS Division II champs.

Menlo may have its hands full with Los Altos, which features scoring leader Colin Mulcahy. The Knights will bank on their defense and the scoring of senior John Holland-McCowan, who poured in five goals in the easy win over Live Oak. Keegan Williams also will play a key role the cage.

One boys' team that had expected to be playing this week was third-seeded Menlo-Atherton, which suffered an 8-7 overtime loss to No. 6 Leland on Saturday at Lynbrook. Leland goalie Tanner Sarpa had 19 blocks.

The Bears (16-8) got on the scoreboard first and raced to a 2-0 lead in the first period, holding a 3-1 halftime edge. Leland scored the only goal in the 3rd quarter to close the gap to 3-2. The Chargers took over in the fourth, twice opening a two-goal lead.

Trailing by 7-5 with 1:09 left on the clock, M-A senior Evan Navarro let loose with a long-range shot that found the back of the net. Leland then ran down the clock before turning the ball over with :07 remaining. Navarro got open, took a pass from freshman Evan McClelland, and fired another one from way outside as the buzzer sounded to force overtime. In the second extra period, Leland got the game-winner.

Navarro led M-A with three goals to go along with five steals and three earned ejections and junior goalie Alex Gow turned aside 10 Leland attempts.

In other Division I quarterfinals, Palo Alto (13-16) got two goals from Quinn Rockwell in the 12-4 loss to Bellarmine while Ben Hendricks tallied twice in Gunn's (13-12) setback to St. Francis.

Girls' water polo

The top four seeds all advanced to the semifinals in the Division I tourney, setting up yet another possible showdown between No. 1 Menlo-Atherton and No. 3 St. Francis in the finals on Saturday.

Leland and Gunn, however, would like a say in that. Leland, seeded No. 2, will take on No. 3 St. Francis on Tuesday at Menlo-Atherton High at 5:30 p.m. Following that, the host Bears (16-9) will take on No. 4 Gunn (22-5) at 7 p.m.

Menlo-Atherton, which is hoping to reach a fourth straight Division I finale, grabbed a 6-0 first-quarter lead against Sequoia on Saturday and coasted. Junior Emily Gran led the way with four goals, three coming in the opening period. Senior co-captain MJ O'Neill, junior Danielle Flanagan and senior Shelby Fero all tallied twice. Senior goalie Emily Dorst had seven saves in a limited appearance while Junior Emma Canny turned the ball away five times. Dorst and junior Brittany Krappe added three assists each.

Gunn comes into the showdown with plenty of momentum after a 7-5 win over rival Palo Alto on Saturday at Lynbrook. The win was the Titans' third of the season over the Vikings (16-13).

"This is obviously a huge win for our program, on a number of levels," said Gunn coach Mark Hernandez. "First, it means we move on the Division I Final Four, and will face top-seed Menlo-Atherton on Wednesday. Second, it's our third win over Palo Alto in four games this season. Crosstown rivalry aside, it's always difficult to beat a good team three times in a season, which made this win especially rewarding. Palo Alto knows us very well, and made some very good adjustments. We won because our girls made some outstanding adjustments of their own.

"The way the game went also made the coaching staff especially proud. In each of the previous three games, we had at least a three-goal lead at some point in the fourth quarter. This game, our only three-goal lead (7-4) game with less than two minutes to play. To the coaches, that means the girls executed during crunch time, and were mentally tough down the stretch."

Hernandez singled out junior Elizabeth Anderson, who scored three goals.

"As the saying goes, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. And that was Elizabeth. Palo Alto knew that to win they had to stop her, and we knew that to win we had to give her opportunities to score. And, despite the fact that Palo Alto played solid defense, she just played better."

Gunn also played outstanding team defense, keyed by Shelby Newman and Casey Lincoln. Goalie Katie-Rose Skelly also had an excellent game, with 13 saves. Rachel Harrus tallied three goals for Paly.

In the Division II semifinals, No. 1 and three-time defending champ Sacred Heart Prep (24-3) cruised to a 13-5 semifinal win over Aragon and will meet No. 4 St. Ignatius on Wednesday (5:30 p.m.) at Lynbrook in a rematch of last season's section finals. Third-seeded Castilleja (16-9) will face No. 2 Los Altos (19-6) in the other semifinal at 7 p.m.

Castilleja advanced with a 13-2 dunking of No. 6 Pioneer seniors Natasha von Kaeppler and Barbara Peterson each scored four goals. Megan Costello added three and Sayeh Bozorghadad tossed in a pair while goalie Sallie Walecka had 15 saves.

The other Gators (SHP) grabbed a 6-1 halftime lead against Aragon and won easily. Junior Pippa Temple scored five goals while Sarah Westcott added four.



First round

Leland 11, Woodside 7

Palo Alto 17, Wilcox 8

Gunn 16, Salinas 11

Monta Vista 14, San Benito 9


Leland 8, Menlo-Atherton 7 (OT)

Bellarmine 12, Palo Alto 4

Serra 8, Monta Vista 7 (OT)

St. Francis 20, Gunn 3

Semifinals (Tuesday)

At Menlo-Atherton High

No. 1 St. Francis (18-6) vs. No. 4 Serra (15-11). 5:30 p.m.

No. 2 Bellarmine (15-11) vs. No. 6 Leland (21-5-1), 7 p.m.


First round

Live Oak 16, Half Moon Bay 9

Willow Glen 10, Carmel 8


Sacred Heart Prep 19, Willow Glen 9

Menlo Shool 15, Live Oak 4

Los Altos 16, Pioneer 5

Soquel 10, Valley Christian 5

Semifinals (Tuesday)

At Lynbrook High

No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (18-9) vs. No. 4 Soquel (18-6), 5:30 p.m.

No. 2 Menlo School (16-9) vs. No. 3 Los Altos (21-6), 7 p.m.


First round

Mitty 19, Lynbrook 1

Los Gatos 6, San Benito 5

Palo Alto 10, Santa Teresa 2

Sequoia 10, Gilroy 4


Menlo-Atherton 13, Sequoia 4

Leland 10, Los Gatos 7

Gunn 7, Palo Alto 5

St. Francis 9, Mitty 2

Semifinals (Wednesday)

At Menlo-Atherton High

No. 3 St. Francis (17-8) vs. No. 2 Leland 23-4), 5:30 p.m.

No. 1 Menlo-Atherton (16-9) vs. No. 4 Gunn (22-5), 7 p.m.


First round

Pioneer 14, Santa Cruz 5

Menlo School 13, Live Oak 8

Presentation 14, R.L. Stevenson 3

Aragon 13, San Lorenzo Valley 8


Castilleja 13, Pioneer 2

Los Altos 12, Menlo 2

St. Ignatius 14, Presentation 5

Sacred Heart Prep 13, Aragon 5

Semifinals (Wednesday)

At Lynbrook High

No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (24-3) vs. No. 4 St. Ignatius (12-12), 5:30 p.m.

No. 2 Los Altos (19-6) vs. No. 3 Castilleja (16-9), 7 p.m.

-- Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online and Forrest Carmichael contributed

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