Brian Kreutzkamp has a problem most coaches would love to have. Is there such a thing as too much experience?
"We have a lot of seniors, the most I've ever had," Kreutzkamp said of his 10 seniors after his Sacred Heart Prep boys water polo team manhandled visiting St. Ignatius 20-4 in the West Catholic Athletic League opener for both teams Wednesday night. "We have a good group of juniors too."
More than just being upperclassmen, Kreutzkamp has several four-year starters and even more players who are used to starting.
The good thing about having so much talent (the Gators finished third in a national tournament over the summer) is the ability to mix-and-match with a competitive squad no matter the situation.
Sacred Heart Prep will know where it stands after competing in the star-studded Elite Eight tournament at Harvard-Westlake, which begins Sept. 14. The Gators host Serra in a WCAL contest next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. before departing for southern California.
The Elite Eight tournament helps determine unofficial state and national rankings. With Menlo School, a 21-6 winner over host Hillsdale in its Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division opener Wednesday, and Sacred Heart Prep putting together two of the most difficult nonleague schedules available, many observers use the comparisons as a means to determine the best of the best.
Sacred Heart Prep finished among the top five last year and Menlo School was among the top 10. State ratings are commonly very similar to national rankings. Water polo is not just a California sport any longer but it still seems that way.
Against SI (1-1, 0-1), the Gators, who netted the first 10 goals, spread the scoring among 13 different players, including seven with two goals each: Zach Pendolino, Chris Rowland, Larsen Weigle, Michael Sonsini, Will Riley, Corey Tanis and Alex Tsotadze.
Senior goalie Alexander Nemeth made 10 saves on 11 shots on goal in addition to a team-high four steals. He played the first three quarters. Kyle Ballack and Pendolino each recorded two steals.
Menlo (1-1, 1-0) was just as abundant, spreading the scoring among 12 players against their Knights counterparts.
Niko Bhatia led the way with four goals; Miller Geschke and Sam Untrecht added three apiece and Atreya Iyer and Jack King each added a pair. Goalie Josh Poulous recorded five saves. Menlo led at halftime, 13-1.
The Knights are hosting the 20th annual Scott Roche Invitational this weekend, with Menlo meeting Redwood on Friday at noon.
The 16-team field features some of the top teams in the state, and this year includes Acalanes, Davis, Granite Bay, La Jolla, Los Gatos, Menlo-Atherton, Ponderosa, Redwood, Rio Americano, Saint Mary's, San Ramon Valley, Santa Cruz, Serra, Soquel and Valley Christian.
The tournament is in memory of Scott Roche, a Menlo School '90 and Princeton University '94 graduate and water polo standout. As a senior captain, Roche guided Menlo to a league championship. At Princeton, he captained the Tigers to a 26-1 record, Ivy League title and a No. 7 national ranking.
After graduating, Scott remained an ardent supporter of both the Menlo and Princeton water polo teams. He passed away in a car accident in Seattle in 1998 just days before his 25th birthday.
In another PAL Bay Division opener, Woodside topped visiting Half Moon Bay 14-9 as Giorgio Fatica scored nine times. The Wildcats (3-1, 1-0) host Menlo-Atherton at 5 p.m. next Wednesday.
Also in the WCAL, Bellarmine beat Serra 15-7 and St. Francis took care of Mitty, 18-1 as St. Raymond's-Menlo Park grad Sean Ferrari scored four times.
The Lancers play at Palo Alto at 5:15 p.m. Friday.
Senior Sophie Siminoff fired a 3-under 33 to help Menlo down visiting Harker, 194-197, in a West Bay Athletic League match at Palo Alto Hills Country Club on Wednesday.
Both teams entered the contest with 2-0 league marks and Harker recorded a round of 196 earlier in the season. The Knights (3-0, 3-0) needed a solid round and Siminoff, with three birdies, and sophomore Gianna Inguagiato, with two birdies, delivered.
"Both teams displayed very good sportsmanship and etiquette as they battled in a match between two of the top high school programs in NorCal," Menlo coach Jim Miller said. "Sophie played another solid tee to green round and she also mastered the slower than normal PA Hills greens."
Siminoff and Inguagiato, who shot a solid 38, set the tone for the match by shooting a two-player total three shots fewer than Harker's top two.
"Gianna showed excellent course management and she ended up hitting the flagstick on No. 9 to set up a tap-in birdie," Miller said. "This reminded me of the eagle Sophie holed from off the green last year in our match versus Harker. These teams bring out the best in each other."
Vikki Xu shot a 40, Sulwen Ma fired a 41 and Marena Herr finished with a personal-best 42 to complete the scoring.
Castilleja beat Notre Dame-San Jose, 223-260, in another WBAL match Wednesday. The Gators are 2-0 in league play with a match scheduled Thursday at 3 p.m. against Notre Dame-Belmont. The Tigers edged Sacred Heart Prep, 255-263, on Tuesday.
Menlo plays at San Jose Muni against Notre Dame-San Jose on Thursday.