Believe it or not, we’re entering the final couple weeks of the 2021 Fall Sports season and the races for Peninsula Athletic League titles and playoff spots begins in earnest. So far, only the Hillsdale and South City girls’ golf team has wrapped up the Bay and Ocean division titles, respectively.
The other fall sports, however — girls’ tennis, water polo and girls’ volleyball – have yet to be decided.
Menlo-Atherton (10-0), which has lost only two Bay Division points this season, have all but wrapped the division championship with a win over Aragon Thursday and locked up the league’s first automatic bid.
Carlmont (8-2) appears to have the inside track to the No. 1 seed in the PAL team tournament, which is used to determine the PAL’s second automatic Central Coast Section playoff spot. The Scots enter the final two weeks of the regular season with a two-match lead over both Burlingame and Woodside (6-4), who are battling for the final two playoff spots from the Bay Division. Aragon (5-5) still has a shot at qualifying as Woodside has the toughest finishing schedule in the league. After a matchup with San Mateo Thursday, the Wildcats close with Carlmont, M-A and Burlingame as its final three matches.
The Dons can expect to drop to 5-6 after a probable loss to M-A today, but have a good shot of winning two of its final three matches. Woodside holds the tiebreaker over Aragon, however, if they finish in a tie for fourth place.
On the Ocean side, Sequoia (10-0) is the team to beat and are looking for a second-straight division title. Mills and Westmoor (8-2) are two games behind, with both needing to win out and then getting some help. The Vikings could be eliminated as soon as today when Sequoia hosts Mills. The Ravens then finish with a winless Capuchino squad and Oceana (5-5), sandwiched around a match with Westmoor.
A Ravens’ title would put them into the PAL team tournament, with a shot at qualifying for the CCS tournament.
Hillsdale (10-0) has been the cream of the PAL crop all season long but, despite their dominance, the Knights still have work to do as Burlingame (9-1) is hot on their heels.
Hillsdale, however, controls its own destiny and can all but wrap up at least a share of the Bay Division title as the Knights host the Panthers next Tuesday. Burlingame would need to win out to share the title with Hillsdale, with the Panthers hosting M-A in the regular-season finale Oct. 26.
A Hillsdale win Thursday would eliminate Aragon and M-A. The Dons and Bears need to win their final four matches and the Knights to lose their last four to catch Hillsdale.
In the race for the Ocean Division title, Half Moon Bay is in the same position as Hillsdale: the Cougars (10-0) enter the final five matches of the season undefeated and hold a one-game lead over Terra Nova and two games over El Camino.
And like the Knights, HMB controls its own destiny. The Cougars can all but eliminate El Camino when they play the Colts tonight and will face off against Terra Nova in the regular-season finale Oct. 26.
The Tigers would have to their previous three matches to set up a winner-take-all finale.
Boys’ water polo
This was expected to be a two-team race and Menlo-Atherton and Woodside did not disappoint. The Wildcats, the defending Bay Division champion from the 2019 season, dropped a 12-10 decision to the Bears on Sept. 20. Thursday will be the rematch with M-A (6-0) hosting Woodside (5-1).
Both teams, however, have all but clinched two of the PAL’s three automatic CCS berths. The final spot will be filled by the winner between the third-place team from the Bay versus the Ocean Division champ.
Right now, that is looking like an Aragon-Terra Nova matchup. The Dons are clear in third place in the Bay, as they are the only team in the division with a winning record.
Terra Nova (8-0 Ocean Division), on the other hand, can still be supplanted, but the Tigers are in the driver’s seat with a two-game lead over both Hillsdale (7-2) and Half Moon Bay (8-2). Both the Knights and Cougars need to win their final three matches and would need Terra Nova to lose at least once. The Terra Nova-Hillsdale season finale could determine the league championship.
Girls’ water polo
Burlingame (7-1) is up by one in the win column over M-A (6-1), while Woodside (5-2) is one game back in the loss column. M-A and Woodside will face off in what is essentially an elimination game today. Both need to win to have a shot at grabbing the division crown. Burlingame and M-A will meet on the final day of the regular season.
One of those three will face off with Ocean Division champ in a CCS play-in game. Right now, Hillsdale and Half Moon Bay are atop the Ocean standings with 8-1 records. Capuchino (5-3) is clinging to hope.
This race should be decided on the final day of the regular season when HMB and Hillsdale face off. The Cougars posted an 11-3 win Sept. 29.