Gators rally to finish third at Memorial Cup water polo | News | Palo Alto Online |


Gators rally to finish third at Memorial Cup water polo

Anjali Kambham plays tight defense as Claire Pisani swims in to help. Photo by David Lewis.

Alexander Nemeth made three of his 13 saves and Larsen Weigle and Andrew Churukian each made crucial steals in the final three minutes to preserve Sacred Heart Prep's 5-4 victory over Drake in the third-place game of the Memorial Cup boys' water polo tournament at Bellarmine on Saturday.

Weigle, getting an assist from Walker Seymour, scored a power-play goal with 2:50 remaining to play to put the Gators (18-4) on top. The defense took care of the rest.

SH Prep dropped a hard-fought 6-5 decision to Campolindo (19-1) in the semifinals earlier in the day. The Gators battled from behind the whole game and had a chance to tie with time running out. The ensuing shot bounced off the post.

Sacred Heart Prep turns its attention to the West Catholic Athletic League playoffs. As the top seed, the Gators are automatically seeded into Thursday's semifinal round, which will be hosted by SHP. The championship match is scheduled for Saturday, also at Sacred Heart Prep.

The Gators opened the tournament with a 9-6 victory over The Bishop's School as Weigle, Churukian and Seymour all netted a pair of goals.

Weigle and Churukian combined for seven goals in SHP's 15-6 victory over Bellarmine in the quarterfinals.

Campolindo took a 5-2 lead into halftime before Churukian scored two straight to get the Gators back into the game. Campolindo made it 6-4 with 3:12 remaining to play. Seymour closed the gap with 47 seconds left, giving SHP one last chance.

Drake scored the game's first two goals in the third-place contest. A pair of goals from Weigle tied the game but Drake scored with 22 seconds left in the second period to carry a 3-2 advantage into halftime.

It seemed as though no one was going to score in the third period, with both goalies coming up with big saves. Corey Tanis finally tied the game, taking his only shot of the game with just under a minute to play in the third.

The Gators took their first lead at 4-3 when Weigle connected midway through the final period. Drake answered less than a minute later, setting the stage for Weigle's heroics.

Menlo-Atherton split a pair of games on Saturday to finish 15th in the tournament. The Bears (15-9) lost to Buchanan, 13-4, and then came back to beat Wilson-Los Angeles, 13-3, in the placement game.

M-A, which has already clinched a spot in the Central Coast Section tournament by finishing second in league play, will take part in the PAL tournament beginning Tuesday.

The Bears are scheduled to meet Half Moon Bay on Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. at Burlingame in the first round.

Orange Lutheran beat Campolindo, 11-9, in the title match.

Girls water polo

Castilleja split four games over the weekend to place 11th overall at the NorCal Invitational hosted by Sacred Heart Prep and Gunn.

The Gators (17-6) play in the PAL Bay Division tournament beginning Tuesday against an opponent to be determined Monday. Tuesday's games are scheduled for Menlo School, with Burlingame meeting Woodside at 2:45 p.m., followed by the host Knights and and Menlo-Atherton at 4 p.m., Aragon and Notre Dame-Belmont at 5:15 p.m. and Castilleja at 6:30 p.m.

After dropping a 7-2 decision to San Ramon Valley on Saturday morning, the Gators came back to beat Clovis West, 7-4.

Claire Pisani scored four goals, Georgia Lewis recorded 11 saves and Madison Lewis had three steals in the win.

SHP opened the tournament with a 17-10 loss to defending CCS Division I champion Leland (20-1) on Friday. Sarah Pedley, promoted from the junior varsity, held her own with six saves in goal.

Pisani and Minhee Chung each scored three goals while Lexi Triantis added a pair. Madison Lewis added three steals and three assists.

Georgia Lewis recorded 14 saves in Castilleja's 8-3 victory over Clovis. Madison Lewis added five steals and two goals.

Host Sacred Heart Prep (17-7) finished 10th in the tournament, also splitting four games.

Soquel knocked the Gators out f the winner's bracket, 5-3, on Friday but SHP came back to beat Las Lomas 11-4 and Clovis West, 9-3, before losing to San Ramon Valley, 9-8.

Sacred Heart Prep hosts the semifinals of the WCAL tournament on Thursday. Seeded second behind St. Francis, the Gators will await the results of Tuesday's opening round contests to determine an opponent.

St. Ignatius is at Valley Christian and Mitty travels to Presentation for the opening round.

Gunn beat Clovis, 9-6, in its final game to place 13th in the tournament. The Titans (12-9) also split four games, losing twice on Friday to Monte Vista-Danville and to San Ramon Valley, 6-5.

The Titans came back top beat Clovis North to advance to the placement game.

Gunn hosts SCVAL De Anza Division leader Los Gatos on Monday at 6:45 p.m. The Titans have the opportunity to move into a first-place tie for the regular-season title just ahead of league playoffs.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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