The final match of 2007 weighs heavily for the Palo Alto boys' soccer team. The Vikings certainly don't want to take a loss into the new year or lose their standing in the SCVAL De Anza Division race.
Palo Alto will be back in action on Friday with victory on its mind. The Vikings will play host to Santa Clara at the Mayfield Soccer Complex at 3:30 p.m.
The Palo Alto girls were scheduled to play at Mountain View on Friday, but the Spartans asked to postpone the match until January 7.
Both Palo Alto teams were undefeated just a week ago. The girls, however, lost at Los Altos last Friday (1-0) and the boys fell to host Los Gatos on Wednesday, 2-0.
The Paly girls (2-1, 10-1) rebounded with a 4-1 romp over visiting Los Gatos on Wednesday to remain tied for first place with Los Altos. Mountain View is 1-1, but did upset Los Altos to open the division season.
Sophomore Sophie Cain gave the Paly girls a 1-0 lead when her shot ricocheted off a Los Gatos defender and into the cage. Senior Teresa Noyola made it 2-0 when she took a pass from Cain and fired a shot that went through the goalie's hands.
Noyola made it 3-0 off a cross from junior Jessie Duller and sophomore Kelly Jenks provided the final tally off a combination assist by Noyola and Duller.
The Paly boys (2-1, 7-1-4) need to beat Santa Clara (1-1) just to remain in a second-place tie with Milpitas and behind Los Gatos (2-0), which ruined the Vikings' unbeaten season. Paly had opportunities, like a penalty kick that was blocked.
While the Palo Alto teams are battling for first, the Gunn boys and girls need to find a way to escape the De Anza Division cellar. Both are winless in three matches following losses Wednesday to Los Altos.
The Gunn boys (0-3, 4-6) dropped a tough one after deadlocking the score, 1-1 in the first half when senior David Light's throw-in bounced off the Los Altos goalie's back when he missed punching it away. The Eagles, however, came back with the winning goal in the second half.
The Gunn girls (0-3, 2-8-1) were crushed by the Eagles, 7-0.
The Woodside Priory (1-0, 6-3) boys are beginning to play better, which may not be good news for the rest of the CCS Division V teams this season. The Panthers rolled to a 71-30 victory over visiting St. Lawrence on Tuesday to open the Private Schools Athletic League season.
"This was a good league opener for us," Priory coach Al Klein said. "We're beginning to play together better."
Without a veteran point guard leading the way, the Panthers struggled early in various ways <0x2014> either having trouble getting the ball inside to 7-2 Greg Somogyi and 6-9 Dinko Marshavelski or guarding the perimeter.
Point guard Andras Helmeczi, a 6-3 junior from Hungary, is becoming more comfortable in that position (he scored 11 on Tuesday) while helping get the ball to Somogyi and Marshavelski, who combined for 31 against St. Lawrence.
Woodside Priory also is back to full strength, roster-wise, with the addition of 6-7 Tyler Starling. He suffered a broken leg in August when he went up for a dunk in practice and suffered a shattered bone in his leg.
"We thought we wouldn't get him until at least the first of the year," Klein said. "That was the best-case scenario. They said he's still growing, so he heals faster."
Klein said Starling has grown seven inches in two years, including a half-inch since August. Starling scored four points in his debut Tuesday and will be back in the lineup Friday night when the Panthers visit Valley Christian-Dublin before taking time off for the holidays.
Gunn (5-5) also will be off for the holidays, but first has some business to attend to at the annual Fremont-Sunnyvale Holiday Classic. The Titans won their second straight in the tourney, a 66-43 win over Los Altos on Wednesday as junior Kyle Perricone scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
The victory moves Gunn into the semifinals on Friday night against Overfelt at 6:30 p.m. The championship game is Saturday at 8 p.m. The Titans have reached the finals in each of the past two seasons.
Palo Alto is keeping busy also, first playing host to Menlo-Atherton (8-3) on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Bears are coming off a 67-42 nonleague win over Anzar on Tuesday, highlighted by Richard Branning's season-best 27 points.
Paly then will take part in the 31st annual St. Francis Holiday Classic beginning next Thursday. The Vikings (6-2) will open against defending CCS Division IV champ Palma at 6:15 p.m.
Palma is a new addition to the tourney along with Montgomery (Santa Rosa), San Luis Obispo and Gilroy.
The Palo Alto Classic will highlight next week's action at Paly. The best first-round matchup on Dec. 27 is Castilleja against St. Francis at 4 p.m.
Pinewood will face George Washington at 5:30 p.m., followed by Palo Alto and Menlo at 7 p.m. Arguably the top team in the tourney, Eastside Prep (8-1), will open against San Mateo at 2:30 p.m.
Eastside opened defense of its Christian Private Schools Athletic League title with a 74-5 rout of visiting San Francisco Christian on Monday. Sophomore Felicia Anderson poured in 35 points to lead the Panthers.
Menlo-Atherton (7-2), fresh from its title at the Half Moon Bay Cougar Classic last weekend, will play host to Aragon on Friday (4:30 p.m.) in a nonleague test.
Sacred Heart Prep (9-1) will visiting King's Academy on Friday at 6:30 p.m. It will be the Gators' final tuneup before opening West Catholic Athletic League play on Jan. 3 against visiting St. Ignatius.