Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 16, 2014

Local teams are all set for league title matches

Sacred Heart Prep and M-A boys meet again in SCVAL finals while Paly girls upend St. Francis to reach championships

by Andrew Preimesberger

Three lacrosse championship matches will be held Saturday. Right now, three local teams know who they'll be playing in the finals while two other squads have a pretty good idea, as well.

The Sacred Heart Prep boys will play Menlo-Atherton for the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League crown at Woodside High at 7 p.m. The finale is a rematch of last year's title game, won by the Bears.

The Palo Alto girls will play Saratoga for the SCVAL crown at Paly at 10 a.m., after eliminating host St. Francis, 10-9, on Wednesday. The Falcons, meanwhile, upset regular-season champ and top seed Gunn, 9-8.

And while the West Bay Athletic League playoffs were only in the semifinal stage on Thursday, look for No. 1 seed SHP and No. 2 Menlo School to reach Saturday's title match at Harker School (Saratoga campus) at 9 a.m.

SHP, which won the regular-season title in the SCVAL De Anza Division, advanced with a 17-10 romp over Menlo School on Wednesday on the Gators' field. The Gators improved to 14-5 while the Knights fell to 14-6.

"I think we have been getting better," said Sacred Heart Prep head coach Chris Rotelli. "We showed a lot of fight and a lot of grit in the second half. I thought they brought great energy and we got those 50/50 possessions put a few in the back of the net."

SHP seniors Frankie Hattler and Sean Mayle combined for 12 goals and four assists to lead their team into title game. Will Kremer added three goals.

"Frankie put us on his back when we needed it," said Rotelli. "We were pressing a little bit at the beginning, but he settled everyone else down and scored some huge goals."

The Gators got off to a fast start in the first quarter when Hattler connected with Mayle and fired in a goal to put Sacred Heart up 4-1 to end the quarter.

The Knights were down by three when Colin Johnson slapped home a goal on an assist from Adam Yecies to make it a 7-5 lead for the Gators going into halftime.

Hattler scored his third goal of the quarter when he ran in for an unassisted score and increased the lead for the Gators, 11-7 after the third quarter.

"Once you beat your guy, the game slows down a bit it's about picking your spot and just hitting it," said Hattler.

Menlo was led by Jack Marren's three goals. Jack Ferguson and Johnson added two each. Hattler had seven goals to lead all scorers.

"We're confident in what we do," said Hattler. "We've worked hard all year long and we know on any given day we can bring it."

Sacred Heart Prep will face Menlo-Atherton for the third time during the league season, gaining a shot at revenge after losing to the Bears in the 2013 title match.

The Bears (12-9) won their fifth straight and defeated the only team to upend the Gators in league play this season.

In girls' lacrosse action:

For the second time in as many weeks, Palo Alto pulled off a dramatic mid-game comeback to beat perennial rival St. Francis. This time, the stakes were higher as the victory moved the Vikings (16-5) into the finals again.

In the final moments, St. Francis managed to score a free shot to tie it up 9-9 with 3:20 left to play. A minute later, a crease roll by Lauren Gargiulo catapulted the Vikings back into the lead, only to have that edge threatened by a free- shot opportunity given to St. Francis. But, Paly sophomore goalie Meredith Kinnaman made the tough save, one of nine during the match, to secure the triumph over the host Lancers.

The victory avenged a one-goal loss in triple overtime to the Lancers in last year's championship match.

St. Francis opened the match with a string of goals and led 6-3 at halftime. The Lancers pushed their lead to 8-3 with 16 left in the match before Paly mounted a comeback.

Maya Benetar, Ami Drez, Allie Peery, Liana Pickrell and Gargiulo all scored in succession to tie the match at 8. Meanwhile, Paly defenders Sama Rao, a senior, juniors Paige Anderson and Sarah McDonnell, and sophomore Reid Walters helped keep the Lancers away from the goal. At 9:30, another goal by Peery gave Paly the lead. Peery finished with four goals.

For six tense minutes, neither team scored until St. Francis evened the score at 9. Not for long. Two dramatic saves by Kinnaman, on free shots, and Gargiulo's second crease roll of the evening, sent the Vikings on course to the championship.

Palo Alto was expecting to face rival Gunn in the finals, but the Titans (15-3) saw their season end with the upset loss to Saratoga.

In the opening round of the WBAL playoffs, Menlo-Atherton rolled to a 15-2 victory over visiting Notre Dame-San Jose on Tuesday. The Bears had finished third in the Foothill Division while NDSJ had won the Skyline Division.

Menlo-Atherton was up 6-0 six minutes into the game on three goals from freshman Grace Tully and the Bears never looked back. Sophomore center Sally Carlson had five goals, two assists and eight self draws. Freshman attacker Izzy Regonini had five assists and two goals. The Bears (9-10-1) got great defense from Hannah Wilson, Sydney Frame and Gianna Prainito.

The Bears met second-place Menlo School on Thursday in a semifinal match. Regular-season league champ Sacred Heart Prep hosted Mitty, a 16-7 winner over Castilleja, in the other semifinal.

Castilleja (6-9) got three goals from Paige Vermeer and two from Ellie Zales in the loss to Mitty, which grabbed a 10-3 halftime lead.

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