Three local soccer teams still alive in CCS semifinals

Palo Alto boys, Menlo and Woodside Priory girls all win their quarterfinal matches

The day started with five local soccer teams competing in the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section playoffs. The day ended with three of those squads advancing to the next round.

The Palo Alto boys' soccer team earned a rematch with St. Francis in the CCS Division II playoffs after going well past overtime to defeat top-seeded South San Francisco on Saturday at Burlingame High.

The No. 8-seeded Vikings (13-4-6) and No. 1 Warriors (19-2) battled to a 2-2 draw after regulation. After two 10-minute overtime periods and two five-minute golden goal (sudden death) periods, the match went to penalty kicks, which Paly won, 3-0.

In the penalty-kick shootout, South City's first shot was blocked by Paly junior keeper Peter Johnson. Paly junior Adam Zernik followed with a goal. The next two PKs by SSF were off frame while Paly junior Kevin Ashworth made his shot and then Vikings' senior Matt Nguyen produced the winning kick.

In regulation, SSF took a 1-0 lead off a corner kick in the first few minutes before Paly tied it when senior Scott Ostrau took a long ball from Riley Smith to score on a one-on-one at the 5:00 mark.

The Warriors grabbed a 2-1 lead at 11:00 on a direct kick. At the 15:00 mark in the second half, Zernik took a cross from Ian Kelly and took a first-time shot from the top of the box and into the upper corner for a 2-2 game.

"What looked like a wild-scoring game settled in to a good battle with Paly having 45 crosses and shots on goals to SoSF's 15," said Paly coach Don Briggs. "Both teams fought hard and were spent after the first two OTs on a relatively warm day for this time of the year."

Briggs singled out Kelly, junior Jenner Fox and Zernik for controlling the midfield.

"Kelly had over five terrific crosses that nearly turned into goals," Briggs said. "John Christopherson, a junior, and freshman Riley Smith shut out the attack of the two high-scoring forwards (Aldo Castro and Jaime Torres) that had 34 goals and 12 assists between them this year."

Paly will now take on No. 5 St. Francis (14-3-5), which eliminated No. 4 Mitty on Saturday, 2-0. The Vikings and Lancers will meet Wednesday at Milpitas High at 4:30 p.m.

In boys' Division I quarterfinal action, Gunn's remarkable run of comebacks ran out of luck as the No. 12-seeded Titans dropped a 2-1 double-overtime decision to No. 4 Alisal in Salinas.

Gunn sophomore Sterling Hancock scored 15 minutes into the second half to tie the game, 1-1, and send it to overtime.

In the second overtime period, the Titans went from looking like they were going to win to losing. With a little over two minutes left in the second overtime, the Titans mounted an attack that saw two shots from 10 yards out directly in the middle of the goal that were deflected by the Alisal goalie.

On the counter, Alisal was fouled in the penalty box and received a penalty kick. Gunn's Joseph Welch did a great job of denying the shot, but it bounced right back to the kicker who drilled it home for the game-winner with barely a minute to play.

Gunn finished its season 10-10-3.

Girls Division III

Menlo School advanced to the semifinals of the CCS Division III playoffs with a 3-0 triumph over No. 11 Mercy-Burlingame on Saturday at Burlingame High.

The No. 3-seeded Knights (11-7-4) will play No. 2 Scotts Valley (14-2-5), a 3-0 winner over Monte Vista Christian, on Tuesday at Valley Christian (San Jose) at 4:30 p.m.

Junior Madi Shove scored in the game's first few minutes and sophomore Nicole Fasola made it 2-0 just seven minutes later. Shove finished the scoring in the 77th minute. Senior keeper Liz Daly did a solid job in helping the Knights advance.

Woodside Priory also advanced to the semifinals, for the second straight season, following a 3-1 victory over Santa Catalina on Saturday at Watsonville High.

The Panthers (16-6) grabbed a 3-0 halftime lead as Lauren Allen (assist Cami Simpson) and Adriana Cortes (twice) scored. Cortes made it 2-0 with an unassisted goal and then 3-0 with an assist from fellow sophomore Massiel Castellanos.

Woodside Priory is hoping to avenge last season's 5-4 overtime loss to Santa Cruz when the same teams meet again Tuesday at Valley Christian (San Jose) at 7 p.m. The Cardinals (17-1-3) are once again seeded No. 1 while Priory is No. 4.

Girls Division II

Palo Alto saw its season end at 14-6-2 following a 4-0 loss to No. 2 Mitty on Saturday at Los Altos High. For the Vikings, it was their second straight season-ending 4-0 loss to Mitty in CCS play.

Paly played without a handful of players, including co-captains Teresa Noyola (playing with U.S. U-20 National Team in Chile) and Caitlin Watson (college visits). Even at full strength, the Vikings would have been hard-pressed to shut down the Monarchs (16-2-6). Mitty took a 1-0 just two minutes into the match and led by 2-0 at halftime. The Vikings had no clear scoring opportunities on the afternoon while Mitty's first three scores came as a result of Paly mistakes.

Paly now has been eliminated by WCAL schools the past three years, all in the quarterfinals.

--Keith Peters


Like this comment
Posted by Renate Steiner
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2008 at 11:25 am

CORRECTION: The Paly girls have NOT had three straight 4-0 season-ending losses in CCS. 2006: St. Ignatius beat Paly 1-0 in the 1st round, in what was a hard-fought, very physical and close game. 2007: Paly had a BYE for the 1st round, and then Mitty beat Paly 4-0 -- "with" soccer star Teresa Noyola and "with" a strong line of experienced senior defenders. 2008: Paly beats Cupertino 4-0 in the first round. Then Mitty, for the 2nd year in a row (not the 3rd!), beats Paly 4-0 -- this time "without" Noyola, "without" a strong senior class of experienced defenders and "without" other key players who were either hurt or unavailable over the President's Weekend holiday. One could look at the progression from 2007 to 2008 and see the positive twist to this story: that the Paly girls actually improved from 2007 to 2008 by holding Mitty to just 4 goals while playing without key players. Perhaps this bodes well for a young and up-and-coming group of sophomores and juniors for next year? Here's the link to the CCS soccer page to confirm the info listed above: Web Link.

Like this comment
Posted by Keith Peters
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Correction has been made in the story

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