The Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep boys water polo teams took advantage of playing in top tournaments over the weekend and while neither came home a champion, both the Knights and Gators came back with the knowledge they can compete with just about anybody.
Menlo lost 8-7, in overtime, in the semifinal of the St. Francis-Acalanes Invitational to eventual champion San Ramon Valley, the same team Menlo beat for the title in the Scott Roche Tournament.
Sacred Heart reached the championship game of the Elite Eight Tournament in Harvard-Westlake, losing to Oaks Christian, 8-5, in the final game.
When it comes time for the Open Division seeding meeting, both schools will have a handful of quality wins in reserve.
The key win for Sacred Heart Prep (5-2) came in Saturday's semifinal, an 11-9 win over Huntington Beach, a program with plenty of history.
A key win for Menlo (9-2) was in the third-place contest, a come-from-behind victory over Bellarmine.
Both teams return to league action this week with important matchups on tap. The Gators travel to play at Bellarmine in West Catholic Athletic League action at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and the Knights host title contender Menlo-Atherton at 5 p.m.
In the title match of the Elite Eight, Sacred Heart Prep fell behind 3-0 before Walker Seymour broke the ice with a goal early in the second half. Less than two minutes later, Larsen Weigle made it 3-2.
That's as close as the Gators came the rest of the way. Alex Tsotadze closed the gap to 7-5 with 3:26 remaining to play in the game. SH Prep had a chance to close the gap even further but a nice save ended the rally.
In addition to Tsotadze and Weigle each scoring twice, Michael Sonsini added a pair of assists.
Menlo trailed Bellarmine, 6-3, in the third-place game before rallying for the victory.
"This tournament demonstrated this team has a lot of heart," Menlo coach Jack Bowen said. "They were exhausted after playing a very tough San Ramon Valley just two hours prior and then, to be down by three goals in the third quarter and fight to come back, that's a lot of character. And I'm not surprised to see it from this group of young men."
Menlo was lead in scoring over the weekend by senior Niko Bhatia and junior Sam Untrecht, each with 12 goals. Center defender Miller Geschke led the team in assists with six and Untrecht and Jayden Kunwar led the team defensively in steals. Sophomore goalie Josh Poulos tallied 39 saves on the weekend.