At one time the Bellarmine College Prep water polo team dominated the West Catholic Athletic League in much the same way its record-setting swim team did.
That was until Sacred Heart Prep joined the WCAL.
The Gators have clearly supplanted the Bells as the top water polo team in the league, having won 10 of the last 11 WCAL championships, as well as in the Central Coast Section. And on Wednesday SHP maintained the upper hand, seizing control of the 2017 league race with a 7-5 win at Bellarmine.
“I think we definitely had a great defensive game against a real good Bellarmine team,’’ said senior Alex Tsotadze, who also led the Gators’ offense with four goals. “We have a huge rivalry with Bellarmine. We prepared and watched film to get ready for this game.’’
SHP (6-2, 3-0) never trailed. Tsotadze and Larsen Weigle scored in the first quarter as the Gators went up 2-1. Weigle added another goal in a defensive-oriented second quarter to make it 3-1 at halftime.
SHP opened it up a bit in the third quarter, getting three goals from Tsotadze, who has committed to play college water polo at Harvard, and one from Andrew Churukian.
“We’ve got real good team speed and go real deep on the bench,’’ SHP coach Brian Kreutzkamp said. “So we wanted to keep pushing. I’m happy. We were down in Southern California all weekend so we were a little tired.’’
The Gators went 3-2 at the Elite Eight Tournament at Harvard Westlake.
“That was a great experience playing against some of the best teams in the nation,’’ Churukian said. “We came back a lot more prepared.’’
SHP is the six-time defending CCS Division II champion. But this year an Open Division will take place for the first time.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the Open Division,’’ Kreutzkamp said. “I’m sure we’ll see Bellarmine again.”
Dominic Kirk scored all five of his team’s goals for Bellarmine (4-3, 2-1).
Menlo 10, Menlo-Atherton 4
Niko Bhatia scored twice and recorded six steals to help Menlo top the Bears in a PAL Bay Division contest Wednesday.
Sam Untrecht led the way with three goals while Jayden Kunwar added a pair.
Nik Caryotakis and Chris Lobdell each scored twice for Menlo-Atherton.
"This is right where we want to be at the halfway point in the season," said Menlo coach Jack Bowen. "We've played many of the top teams in Northern California as well as going undefeated in league, all the while, maintaining a strong focus on conditioning and trust in teammates. I'm looking forward to the second half of the season with these young men."
Menlo goalies Josh Poulos is making a name for himself as one of the top goalies in the section, stopping 13 of the 17 shots he faced.
The Knights (10-2, 3-0) host Half Moon Bay in a league contest next Wednesday at 6 p.m. while the Bears (4-5, 1-1) host Carlmont, also Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Girls water polo
Sarah Donato scored three times, Gillian Bressie recorded six blocks and Menlo School stopped Menlo-Atherton, 7-5, in a PAL Bay Division contest Wednesday.
Meg Reinstra added two goals for the Knights (5-4, 2-1), who co-host, with M-A, the Amanda McDonald Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
In the WCAL, Sacred Heart Prep (7-2, 2-0) beat Presentation, 10-4, and St. Francis topped Valley Christian, 11-5.
Bella Bachler, Annabel Facey, Eleanor Facey and Nadia Paquin each scored twice in SH Prep's win over Presentation.
Izzy Mandema scored four goals to lead the Lancers (4-3, 2-0), who will be participating in the Amanda McDonald tourney along with the Gators (6-2, 2-0), St. Ignatius, Presentation and Mitty.
Valley Christian visits Castilleja for a nonleague match at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Izzy Ditzler added three goals and Megan LaCroix had a pair for St. Francis.
Menlo beat Gunn 5-2 in a nonleague contest Wednesday while St. Francis grabbed a 5-2 win from Menlo-Atherton and St. Ignatius topped host Sacred Heart Prep 4-3.