A total of five healthy seniors were on the soccer field Wednesday when the Gunn and Sacred Heart Prep girls teams got together for a nonleague game in Atherton.
Call it a year of transition for Sacred Heart Prep coach Ramiro Arredondo, who lost eight seniors to graduation and another to a torn ACL nearly a year ago. He has two other starters out hurt, one on crutches.
Gunn coach Juan Mayora, also hoping to make a quick, neat transition with a young club, only lost three seniors to graduation but another 10, eight juniors and two seniors, to club travel teams.
Senior Natalie Hill scored twice for the Titans, who beat the Gators, 3-2, for their first win of the season. Gunn (1-2-3) opened with three ties and two losses to teams that are a combined 12-4-7 on the year.
Senior Lizzie Kruse scored for Sacred Heart Prep (1-4), which opened the season against teams that are a combined 11-6-2. The Gators, who play St. Ignatius at the Fremont Tournament on Saturday at 9 a.m., also meet Mitty and Palo Alto (the three teams are currently a combined 11-2-0) before opening league play.
Gunn also has three matches remaining before opening league play.
Despite their various setbacks, both coaches remain optimistic. Both teams reached the Central Coast Section tournament last year and both expect to make a run this year.
"We'll be fine," Mayora said. "I'm proud of the freshmen. They've had to learn the hard way. We've been in every game except Mountain View (defending CCS Open Division champs) and we're learning. We're starting to click and I feel like I have 75 percent of my lineup set. It's just a matter of finding the right combination."
Gunn uses nine freshmen, most of them as defenders. There's even a freshman team captain, midfielder Kerawin Heaney, who has helped ease the newcomers into the fold. Hill is the only returning captain (of three last year) and she's had to carry an extra load.
Juniors Lily Jose, who scored a goal, and Liz Schemp, who recorded an assist, have stepped up quite nicely to fill important roles. Jose, in particular, seems to cover the whole field as though she were running on roller skates.
Sacred Heart Prep regularly uses three freshmen and four sophomores, with another pair of sophomores sidelined. All four losses have been by a single goal, three by 1-0 scores.
"A lot of that has to do with us being young," Arredondo said. "We could have one player back pretty soon and the other by January. When we get to the regular season we should be back in good shape."
One of the biggest losses the Gators have had to overcome is the ACL injury to Mia Shenk, regarded as one of the top players in Northern California and most certainly a future college star.
Shenk suffered her injury during the Gunn game last year, which was played just over 11 months ago. She has no notifiable discomfort and has been taking part in practice, though not in contact drills.
"We're letting her decide when she's ready," Arredondo said. "She has to consider what is in front of her. I think it's even a good idea to just wait until college to play."
Looking at all the close games, though, makes him wonder a little bit.
"She's a finisher," Arredondo said of Shenk. "She knows how to close. I know she plays some midfield for her club team but to me she's a pure forward."
Junior Caitlin Cacione also scored for SHP and sophomore Nikky Molumphy delivered both assists.
In other matches, Leela Srinivasan scored for Palo Alto but the Vikings (3-2) were surprised by visiting Notre Dame-Belmont, 2-1, on Wednesday. Isabella Bonomi recorded the assist.
Goalies Clara Luehrs and Kaitlin Hanay shared duties, with each allowing a goal and combining for seven saves.
The Vikings are off until they entertain Saratoga on Jan. 3 in a league game.
Mercy-Burlingame beat Priory, 4-0, at Skyline College. The Panthers (3-4) have a game Saturday at the Fremont Tournament before taking a Christmas break.
Senior Carly McLanahan scored 12 of her 22 points in the first quarter as Menlo-Atherton ran away from Silver Creek, 66-25, in its home opener Wednesday.
McLanahan scored all her points on 3-pointers and a free throw. She made seven of them and the Bears (2-4) made 13 overall. Freshman Catherine Chai hit a pair of long-range shots. Erica Mueller, Oron Estes, Nicolette Yeh and Linnea Lindblom all connected from beyond the arc.
Lindblom had 11 points and Greer Hoyem added 10. Hoyem likely dominated the boards too.
M-A hosts Sacred Heart Prep on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m.
Ila Lane had 15 points and 14 rebounds and host Priory topped Hillsdale, 47-31, in a nonleague game. Annabelle North added 14 points, including a 3-pointer, and combined with Gabby Ruiz for nine steals. Ruiz added six points and six rebounds and Dominque Robson added a pair of 3-pointers.
The Panthers (2-4) are still without team captain Tatiana Reese, who is recovering from an ankle injury. Priory plays Valley Christian at 7:30 p.m. Saturday as part of the Presentation Shootout.
Palo Alto beat visiting Evergreen Valley, 49-43, on Tuesday and will host Leigh (2-1) on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Menlo-Atherton beat visiting Jefferson, 55-42, on Wednesday and will host Sacred Heart Prep at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 21.
Pinewood dropped a 67-57 decision to visiting Overfelt on Wednesday. The Panthers (5-3) host Alma Heights Christian at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Priory and host Pinewood played to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.
Priory scored first but Marcus Fox scored for Pinewood to knot things up. Neel Kattri and Gavin Phillips were effective on defense.
"I was impressed with them, so this was a great result for us," Pinewqood coach Tom Skousen said. "Both of our goalies, Alex Jung and Bambos Cristos played well."
Menlo-Atherton opened its Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division season with a 2-1 loss at Sequoia on Wednesday.
The Bears (0-6, 0-1) have a game at the Homestead Cup on Saturday.