The Sacred Heart Prep boys' and girls' water polo teams both took positive steps forward in the early season with impressive victories against rival St. Francis in West Catholic Athletic League openers on Wednesday in Mountain View.
The SHP boys avenged their lone WCAL regular-season loss from 2010 plus a setback to the Lancers in the league playoffs with a 10-9 triumph. The SHP girls, meanwhile, opened defense of their league title with a 13-6 win over host St. Francis.
SHP boys' coach Brian Kreutzkamp said he believed his team probably was ranked No. 3 in the WCAL before Wednesday's victory. The Gators (1-0) now look to be No. 2 behind Bellarmine.
There's still a long way to go in the season, but SHP certainly made a statement against the Lancers with sophomore Harrison Enright doing likewise with seven goals.
"It was all Enright tonight," said Kreutzkamp. "He carried us. (Goalie Will) Runkel had some great saves down the stretch, but it was mostly Enright."
Sacred Heart trailed at the end of every quarter but tied the match at 9 with 2:42 left to play on Enright's final goal. He also figured in the winner as his pass to Brett Hinrichs resulted in a five-meter penalty shot that Zach Churukian buried for the clincher.
Runkel helped blank the Lancers in the crucial fourth quarter -- he made a stop on a point-blank shot with under 15 seconds to play -- with some of his 15 saves, keeping him in line with his goalie predecessors Michael Wishart and Ben Dearborn. Kreutzkamp, in fact, believes Runkel might even be ahead of where Wishart and Dearborn were as juniors. Wishart now plays for Santa Clara while Dearborn is in goal for Princeton.
That remains to be seen as the Gators will be tested throughout the season as they attempt to get back to the Central Coast Section Division II championship match, which they lost to rival Menlo School last season.
Next up for the Gators will be the Santa Barbara Tournament on Friday and Saturday, where 16 of the top 20 teams in California will be competing. SHP opens against Agoura, the No. 5-ranked team in the state.
The Sacred Heart Prep girls, meanwhile, avenged a 15-7 loss to St. Francis in the third-place match at last weekend's St. Francis Autumn Invitational as senior Pippa Temple scored four goals and fellow senior Clare Rudolph added three.
"We focused more on our press and it worked well," SHP coach Jon Burke on the difference's in the two matches against the Lancers. "Our primary defenders, Clare Rudolph and Mackenzie O'Holleran, did an outstanding job with their matchups and (sophomore) Kelly Moran had a good game in the goal (with 12 saves).
"We were able to control the ball better in our front court. St. Francis is a fast team, so we knew ball control was going to be very important. Last Saturday, we gave up a few goals off of turnovers and we really stressed not making those mistakes in our league match. We also played great 5 v. 6 and that helped create momentum for us. Our scoring was balanced with all six of our starters getting at least one goal. We were very pleased with the result."
Senior Erin Sheridan added two goals for the Gators while junior Bridgette Harper also scored twice.
In other water polo action Wednesday:
Palo Alto (2-0) continued its strong early season success with a 7-6 victory over visiting Mountain View as Will Conner converted a five-meter penalty shot with 1:05 remaining to clinch it. Paly goalie Daniel Armitano had seven saves in the SCVAL De Anza Division matchup between two of the top three squads.
In another De Anza Division match, host Gunn outscored Homestead 14-7.
In other girls' action, host Palo Alto (1-1, 2-4) won by forfeit over Wilcox due to a communication mishap. The Gunn-Homestead match was not reported.
In nonleague action, Menlo-Atherton (1-4) dropped a 14-6 nonleague decision to visiting Leland.
Freshman Chloe Sales shot an even-par 35 as Castilleja opened its season with a 235-251 nonleague victory over Los Gatos at Palo Alto Hills Country Club on Wednesday. Sales had birdies on the first two holes, but still didn't win medalist honors as Madeline Bong of Los Gatos had a sizzling 2-under 33.
Caroline Debs shot 44 for Castilleja while teammate Taylor Wilkerson had a 47 despite battling a sore knee. Ellie Zales shot 49 and Danielle Mitchell rounded out the scoring with a 60.
With Caroline Nordman rallying for a 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-4 victory at No. 1 singles, host Sacred Heart Prep held off Menlo-Atherton, 4-3, in a competitive nonleague match on Wednesday.
The Bears (3-4) won the remaining singles matches behind Lauren Diller, Samantha Andrew and Lindy LaPlante, but the Gators (3-0) battled back and swept the doubles behind the tandems of Ruthie Sarwal-Cici Marshall, Kathleen Casey-Emily Westerfield and McKenzie Lynch-Kay Ackley.
The key doubles match was at No. 2, where Casey and Westerfield produced a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 triumph.
Also in Atherton, Menlo School had to wait a week to play visiting Burlingame in a makeup match, but the wait was worth it as the Knights posted a 7-0 victory on Wednesday.
Menlo junior Giannina Ong defeated two-time Peninsula Athletic League champion Brooke Tsu, 1-6, 7-5, 10-6, to lead the way. Kristy Jorgensen won at No. 2 singles, 6-0, 6-0, while fellow sophomore Christine Eliazo posted a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 3 and freshman Liz Yao won at No. 4, 7-5, 6-2, to help the Knights improve to 4-1.
In doubles, junior Laura Gradiska and sophomore Paulina Golikova won 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) at No. 1. Junior Sam Hoag and Helena Ong teamed for a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) victory at No. 2 and Sarah Schinasi and Tiffany Zhong wrapped up a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 3 doubles.