By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
It wasn't the best performance he had seen from his Sacred Heart Prep boys' water polo team, but Gators' coach Brian Kreutzkamp was more than pleased with the results.
"I didn't think we played great," he said, "but I'm glad we found a way to win."
Sacred Heart Prep (9-2) did enough good things and did them at the right time to come away with a 7-6 victory over San Ramon Valley in the championship match of the 32-team NCS vs. CCS Challenge that wrapped up Saturday at St. Francis High in Mountain View.
Stanford-bound Michael Holloway scored three goals, including the eventual winner with just under a minute to play, and fellow senior Will Runkel came up with 18 blocks -- including two 5-meter penalty shots as SHP went 4-0 in the two-day tournament that featured many of the top teams in Northern California.
The Gators opened with an 18-2 win over Monte Vista (Danville) on Friday before beating neighborhood rival Menlo-Atherton, 10-3, in the quarterfinals. SHP reached the finals with an 11-2 win over Las Lomas in the semifinals earlier in the day as Runkel finished with 16 saves. He wound up with 53 blocks on the weekend.
If there was anything Kreutzkamp liked most, it was how his team kept its composure after falling behind, 2-0, to start the game and when the Wolves rallied from a 4-2 deficit to tie the Gators at 4 by halftime.
"And when it got super physical . . . I felt they (SRV) lost their composure more than we did," Kreutzkamp said. "And, It didn't have to be that close, if we had made more 6-on-5s."
The Gators failed to capitalize on back-to-back man advantages in the third period, after Holloway had scored to tie the game at 5 and Runkel had come up with a block on a 2-on-1 breakaway by SRV.
"Will bailed us out numerous times," Kreutzkamp said. "We got contributions from everyone."
Runkel came up with his second block of a penalty shot with a minute left in the period, before Zoltan Lazar gave the Gators a 6-5 lead with 3:56 left in the match as SHP converted a 6-on-5 situation.
The Gators had their own 5-meter penalty shot blocked with 1:33 left to play, but Harrison Enright got a kick out and Holloway scored the game-winner.
San Ramon Valley, which won the Scott Roche Memorial Tournament at Menlo earlier in the season, scored with 44.7 seconds left. SHP called time with 32.7 remaining and with 17.9 seconds left on the shot clock. The Gators, however, ran a play that drew a kick out and earned them a new shot clock, allowing them to run out the final seconds.
"We have to play these kinds of games, against a team like this -- one of the best in Northern California," said Kreutzkamp, whose team went 5-0 this past week that included a win over Bellarmine.
Elsewhere in the tournament:
Palo Alto went 4-0 in the lower bracket and finished 17th following a pair of victories on Saturday.
In the third round, the Vikings (9-4) defeated St. Ignatius, 11-9, behind four goals by Bret Pinsker. In the final round, Paly held off Soquel, 7-5, as Pinsker added three more goals. He finished with 15 goals for the tourney.
Menlo-Atherton lost a pair of matches on Saturday -- 12-11 to Acalanes and 15-8 to Bellarmine -- but, because the Bears won their opener on Friday, they finished eighth.
Menlo School (7-4) finished 3-1 following an 8-6 win over Campolindo and a 6-5 triumph over Los Altos on Saturday in the consolation finals. The Knights wound up ninth. Nick Bisconti tallied nine goals in the four matches for Menlo.
"I'm really proud of how this team bounced back from a tough loss against a very good team in our first round," said Menlo coach Jack Bowen. "These guys stepped up and ran our system extremely well for three games, having 12 players making legitimate contributions. I'm really excited to run with this momentum as we move into next week's training."
Pinewood sophomore Nicole Colonna had the best performance by any local runner as she finished fifth overall in the girls' Division V race at the annual Stanford Invitational on Saturday at the Stanford Golf Course.
Colonna ran 20:09 over the 5,000-meter course (3.1 miles) while Castilleja senior Fiona Maloney-McCrystle was seventh in 20:34.
The best local team finish was sixth by the Menlo-Atherton girls in the Division I race. Junior Taylor Fortnam led the way in 18th (for team scoring) in 19:45. Freshman Annalise Crowe (20:02), freshman Maddie Worden (20:16), freshman Katie Beebe (20:58) and junior Annika Roise (21:34) rounded out the Bears' scoring.
The Priory boys finished eighth in Division V with junior Johnny Trudelle leading the way in 28th overall in 17:56. The Palo Alto girls were 10th in Division I with Nora Rosati's 20:05 and Chika Kasahara's 20:06 pacing the Vikings.
Individually, Menlo freshman Zoe Enright was 10th in Division IV in 19:30 and sophomore teammate Lizzie Lacy was 15th (19:46) to pace the Knights to 17th place. Junior Matt Myers led the Menlo boys in 23rd (16:37), but the Knights competed without their No. 2, 3 and 4 runners.
Daniel Hill of Sacred Heart Prep finished 46th (17:01) to pace the Gators to a 20th place in Division IV while Kathryn Leahy led the SHP girls with a 25th place in 20:09.
In the Division I boys' race, Palo Alto was 21st out of 35 teams while Menlo-Atherton was 29th.
Priory went 4-0 and won the Mt. Madonna Invitational on Saturday near Santa Cruz. The Panthers (14-4) defeated Pacific Collegiate in the championship match, 30-28, 25-22.
Setter Stephanie Swan finished the tourney with 167 assists while junior Marine Hall-Poirier paced the offense with 49 kills. Priory coach Dustin Moore singled out libero Michaela Koval for leading the team in digs and controlling serve receive.
Girls water polo
Sacred Heart Prep finished 3-1 and in fifth place at the Woodcreek Invitational on Saturday. The Gators (8-4) got 39 saves from goalie Kelly Moran during the two-day event, which saw only a 6-4 loss to Clovis West marring an otherwise perfect performance.
SHP, did defeat Davis in the final round, 5-4. Davis won the St. Francis Invitational a few weeks ago. The Gators also bounced perennial East Bay power Monte Vista (Danville), 6-4, in the the third round. Morgan McCracken scored eight goals in the tourney for SHP with Caitlin Stuewe adding seven.