SHP girls reach CCS finals, but M-A and Gunn boys knocked out


After one night of semifinals in the Central Coast Section water polo playoffs, this is what has been decided: There will be no matchup between the Gunn and Menlo-Atherton boys in Division I while Sacred Heart Prep and St. Francis will meet in the finals for the first time since 2007.

Top-seeded Bellarmine (23-5) ended the season of No. 4 Menlo-Atherton (16-11) with a 10-9 triumph on Tuesday night in the Bells' pool. Third-seeded St. Francis (16-11) made it an all-West Catholic Athletic League finale with an 8-3 victory over No. 2 Gunn (18-10).

The Bells and Lancers will square off in the Division I title match for the first time since 2011 on Saturday at Independence High in San Jose.

Menlo-Atherton and Gunn had hoped to meet in the finals for the first time ever, but those hopes were dashed.

M-A and Bellarmine were even after one period, 3-3, with the Bells moving ahead 8-7 after three. The Bells held the final margin at 10-9 with time running out and M-A having a shot to tie and force overtime, but couldn't find the back of the net.

Christian Huhn led the Bears with five goals with fellow senior Alex Hakanson adding two. Seniors Jorge Pont and Mostyn Fero each tallied once in their final game. The Bears will graduate nine seniors.

Hakanson and Fero were named to the All-PAL Bay Division first team earlier in the week with Huhn named to the second team and sophomore goalie Noah Smith receiving honorable mention.

St. Francis joined Bellarmine in the final by jumping out to a 4-0 lead after one period and holding on while avenging a 12-11 nonleague loss to Gunn on Oct. 16. In that match, Gunn seniors Calder Hilde-Jones and Christian Znidarsic combined for nine goals. On Tuesday, that same duo was limited to three by the Lancers' suffocating defense.

At Gunn High, the top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep girls (23-5) rolled over No. 8 Valley Christian, 16-6, and No. 2 St. Francis took care of No. 6 Castilleja, 8-2.

The Gators and Lancers will meet for a fourth time this season in the Division II finals on Saturday. SHP is 3-0 in the season series and will be seeking an unprecedented ninth straight section championship.

Sacred Heart Prep jumped out to a 10-1 halftime lead before subbing liberally in the third period when Mitty tallied four goals. Junior Maddy Johnston led the Gators with five goals with senior Malaika Koshy along with juniors Layla Waters and Maddie Pendolino adding three each.

The CCS playoffs for SHP have turned into a near repeat of the WCAL playoffs, with the Gators facing three league foes in section action.

In the first semifinal at Gunn, Castilleja kept it close at 3-1 by halftime but didn't have the firepower to overtake the Lancers, who had beaten the Gators earlier this season (8-4) in a nonleague match. Senior Celia Aldrete and junior Jenna Kotcher tallied goals for Castilleja while sophomore goalie Georgia Lewis had eight saves.

In Division I girls' semifinal action on Wednesday, No. 5 Palo Alto (16-12) will take on No. 1 Leland (18-9) at Gunn High at 7 p.m. In a Division II boys' semifinal at Bellarmine, No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (20-7) will face No. 4 Valley Christian (12-13) at 5:30 p.m., followed by No. 2 Menlo School (17-11) against No. 3 St. Ignatius (15-11) at 7 p.m.

— Palo Alto Online Sports


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