The best boys water polo team in the Central Coast Section has an address on Valapariso Ave. That was guaranteed when Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep each won its respective CCS Open Division semifinal games Wednesday at St. Francis.
Menlo won yet another one-goal contest, edging Bellarmine, 7-6, in the first game. Sacred Heart Prep beat the host Lancers, 10-5, in the nightcap. The two Atherton teams will meet for the title on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Independence High in San Jose.
In Division I, Gunn advanced to the championship match with a 9-6 victory over Willow Glen. The Titans (18-11) play Leland (21-7) at 10:20 a.m. at Independence.
The girls' water polo championship times have also been set. Sacred Heart Prep takes on defending Division I champion Leland at 11:10 a.m., also at Independence, for the Open Division crown and Menlo (15-12) meets Valley Christian (19-11) at 2:20 p.m.
The Mountain View-Los Altos game starts at 9 a.m. and Santa Cruz vs. St. Ignatius is at 3:40 p.m.
The Knights (20-6) enter Saturday's contest as the underdog, something that doesn't seem to faze Menlo. Both schools play extremely difficult nonleague schedules to prepare fopr games like this.
Menlo has won its last three games by one goal and is 6-1 overall in games decided by a single goal.
“Our team’s goal is, ‘Be your best,’ and it has been since my first day here,” Menlo's 18-year veteran coach Jack Bowen said. “The Open Division epitomizes that goal as it takes the best of the best and puts them in one tournament.”
Sacred Heart Prep (23-4) is the six-time defending CCS Division II champion and has generally been regarded as the benchmark as the Gators have also won several WCAL titles along the way.
Menlo and Sacred Heart Prep have clinched spots in the inaugural Northern California tournament but never has so much been on the line in this rivalry game.
Knights' sophomore goalie Josh Poulos recorded 10 saves against Bellarmine and also had an assist. Sam Untrecht, who also had three steals, and Jayden Kunwar each scored twice. Maxwell Patterson and Miller Geschke also scored.
Niko Bhatia was active at both ends of the pool, scoring a goal, blocking two shots and recording four steals. Patterson added a steal and blocked three shots.
Menlo reached 17 of the past 23 Division II finals, winning it five times. The Knights and Gators have dominated that division since it was first contested.
Larsen Weigle scored the game's first two goals, including one 28 seconds into the proceedings, and Sacred Heart Prep never trailed. After the Gators took a 5-1 lead, the Lancers never got closer than three the rest of the way.
SHP goalie Alexander Nemeth only faced 10 shots on goal, saving half of them. He also added a game-high five steals.
Weigle finished with three goals and two assists, which was matched by Michael Sonsini. Walker Seymour added a pair of goals and an assist while Andrew Churukian and Alex Tsotadze each added a goal and combined for another five steals.
Gunn advanced to its first final in 20 years.
West Bay Athletic League MVP Cate Desler and top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep advanced to the CCS Division IV championship match to be played at Palo Alto High on Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Gators downed King City, 25-17, 25-11, 21-25, 25-10, to reach the finals for the second time in as many years.
Sacred Heart Prep (24-7) automatically qualifies for NorCals by making the CCS final.
Setter Haley Martella, a second team all-WBAL selection, will lead the Gators against WBAL runnerup Notre Dame-Belmont (29-11), which swept Carmel in the other semifinal.