Galileo finds stroke quickly

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Lions already a contender in program’s third season

The Galileo girls’ golf team will come face-to-face with what might have been Thursday afternoon at Lincoln Park Golf Course.

The unbeaten Lions (5-0) have emerged into an Academic Athletic Association power in only their third year as a program, and will take on Lowell (5-0) for the league’s regular-season title in the final match before the playoffs begin next week.

But standing in their way will be Katrina Delen-Briones, the two-time defending AAA medalist who originally enrolled at Galileo before transferring in part because of the Lions’ lack of a golf program.

“Katrina transferred to Lowell because we didn’t have a team yet,” Galileo coach Don Papa said. “If we had one at the time, maybe she would have been here.”

Delen-Briones may have “legitimate college potential,” according to Papa, and could have made the Lions the team to beat. But Galileo has improved steadily under Papa, a former football coach, and a group that took its lumps as freshman has found its way as juniors.

The Lions went 2-4 in their first year but rebounded to go 6-1 last season before losing to Lowell in the playoff final.

Now, Galileo is still unbeaten and has a legitimate chance to take down the Cardinals, who have won the league playoff title four straight times.

“That first year, everything was new to us and we would get really nervous,” Galileo’s Dianna Lau said. “Now we know what to expect, and there’s not as much pressure.”

Lau is listed as the Lions’ No. 3 player, and the junior makes up strokes with her strong short game. Galileo’s top golfer this season has been fellow junior Alex Choy, a lefty who picked up the game through the First Tee program at Harding Park Golf Course and is extremely accurate off the tee.

“We’re out here to have fun and meet new people every time we play,” Choy said. “And we’ve been having a lot of fun this year.”

Other key contributors have been Kim Ricci, Alyssa Drewwanich, Christina Trinh and Nicole Wang.

The AAA playoffs begin Tuesday, with the winner of the Lowell-Galileo match facing Washington (2-4) at Golden Gate Park at 3 p.m. The Lowell-Galileo loser plays Lincoln (4-2) on Wednesday, also at Golden Gate Park at 3 p.m.

Coming home: When the Riordan football team travels to San Mateo to play Serra on Saturday, it will represent a true homecoming for Mike Langridge. The Crusaders’ first-year coach is a 1991 Serra grad who was a captain on the 1990 Central Coast Section championship team and coached at the school for 10 years. His parents live adjacent to the Padres’ Freitas Field, and Langridge said he was out on their roof watching and rooting for Serra Oct. 14 when the team broke a 34-game losing streak to St. Francis.

“I coached a lot of those guys,” Langridge said. “And I always root for them to win. Except when they’re playing us.”

Gateway going: The Gateway boys’ soccer team may be the most dominant squad in The City. The Gators entered Tuesday’s game against Pescadero 9-0 in Bay Counties League Central Division play, and had outscored opponents 36-8 along the way.

melliser@examiner.com

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