Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 17, 2013

M-A boys, SHP girls claim league lacrosse playoff titles

Bears hold off SHP while Gators end Menlo's streak of WBAL crowns

by Andrew Preimesberger

One champion defended, another did not, and an undefeated season meant nothing when it came down to the biggest match of the season.

Those were the bottom lines at three lacrosse championship matches on Saturday as the Menlo-Atherton boys won, the Menlo School girls were upended by rival Sacred Heart Prep and the Palo Alto girls fell in triple overtime.

For the second straight year, the Menlo-Atherton boys won the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League title, this time with a 9-7 victory over Sacred Heart Prep on Saturday evening at Burlingame High.

"It's an incredible feeling," said M-A head coach Steven Kryger. "Both teams played phenomenally well today and phenomenally smart with a lot of class."

The top-seeded Bears finished their season at 16-6, while No. 2 Sacred Heart ended its year at 13-9.

Both teams got off to slow starts in the first quarter as Gators' junior Brian White scored the only goal of the quarter in the first four minutes of play. Sophomore goalie Austin Appleton saved 12 shots for the Sacred Heart defense in the first half.

The Bears finally scored in the second quarter on back-to-back goals from senior Duncan McGinnis and Nick Schlein to put M-A up, 2-1. Senior Kotaro Kihira slammed in a goal with assist from senior Drew Uphoff with 0:16 left in the half to put the Bears up 4-2.

The Sacred Heart offense stepped up in the third quarter when it tallied two goals from senior attacker Andrew Eifert, cutting the deficit to 7-5.

The Gators would make it a one-goal game in the fourth quarter when White drilled a shot past M-A goalie Griff Waymire to pull to within one at 8-7.

But Kihira came through again for M-A when he sprinted down field and scored on a bounce with 3:45 left in the game, putting the Bears up 9-7 and practically ensuring the win.

"The possessions today were one with the effort," said McGinnis, who finished with two goals and two assists. "We never stopped dictating the game and we never let them (Sacred Heart) take control."

"In the end, things went our way," said Kryger. "Guys made plays; we made a few more than them and that was ultimately the difference. I'm just proud to have been a part of this."

Menlo-Atherton finished its season ranked No. 30 in the state and No. 12 in Northern California by laxpower.com.

In the West Bay Athletic League girls' playoff finals Saturday morning, Sacred Heart Prep made history for the second time this season by handing defending champion Menlo School a 13-8 defeat at Harker School in San Jose.

The Gators (19-1), who ended the Knights' 59-match league win streak in the teams' second meeting this season by the same score, not only ended Menlo's streak of WBAL playoff titles at four but won their first-ever league crown with the historic win. SHP's only loss came to Menlo in the first half of the season.

The Gators took and early 4-1 lead, holding Menlo to one goal with only five minutes remaining in the first half. Menlo senior Brooke Bullington scored two goals before intermission as the Gators took a 6-3 lead into the second half.

SHP came out strong in the second half with two quick goals from freshman Ally Mayle and Caroline Cummings. Menlo senior Ali Kim scored but SHP then tallied three unanswered goals.

Mayle led the Gators with five goals while Cummings had three goals and one assist, Brigid White tallied twice and added an assist for the Gators, SHP's defense held Kim to just the one goal while Gators' goalie Emily Westerfield had seven saves. Menlo finished 12-8 and bid farewell to 11 seniors, including Brooke Bullington. She scored four goals.

Sacred Heart Prep finished its finest campaign ranked No. 5 in the state, No. 3 in NorCal and No. 6 in the West Region. Menlo was No. 8 in the state, No. 5 in NorCal and No. 12 in the West Region.

In the girls' SCVAL finale at Burlingame on Saturday morning, Palo Alto let two sizable leads get away late in the game and would up dropping a 16-15 decision in sudden-death overtime to St. Francis.

The Vikings (18-4), who beat St. Francis twice during the regular season while going 14-0, held a 13-7 lead with 8:39 left to play in regulation. The Vikings still led by 13-10 with 4:35 to play and were up 13-12 with under a minute left before the Lancers rallied to tie and eventually win.

Palo Alto held an 8-1 lead and then 9-3 halftime advantage before the Lancers charged back to tie, sending the match to extra periods.

Each team scored once in the first overtime, but St. Francis went ahead by 15-14 in the second. Paly tied it after Anna Dairaghi forced the Lancers' goalie to come out of the net, allowing the Vikings to capitalize and tie the match again.

Nina Kelty led Paly with four goals and two assists while fellow senior Charlotte Biffar added three goals and one assist. Simone Buteau also had a hat trick while Julia Farino scored twice and added a pair of assists for the Vikings.

Despite the loss, Palo Alto wound up being ranked ahead of St. Francis in the state (No. 13 vs. 14) and West Region (No. 17 vs. 18).

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