By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
Members of the Palo Alto girls' lacrosse team should have been feeling good as they walked off their field on Friday night following a 10-8 victory over rival Gunn in a Santa Clara Valley Athletic League match. The Vikings should have been tied for first place, but they weren't.
After self-reporting an ineligible player, the Vikings had to forfeit six league victories due to an administrative violation. Thus, instead of being 9-1 after beating Gunn, Paly is just 3-7.
Palo Alto Athletic Director Earl Hansen said he received a call from CCS administrator Steve Filios on Tuesday, which Hansen said on Saturday was the first time he'd heard of the matter. Contrary to prior reports, the forfeitures were not a result of a CCS decision.
"Technically, the CCS did not actually make a ruling," said Filios. "Last week Palo Alto High School informed our office that, in accordance with CIF and CCS rules, they would be forfeiting some lacrosse games because they discovered that one of their players was ineligible.
The violation involved one player who transferred to Palo Alto High at mid-term. She joined the lacrosse team at the beginning of the season, but the proper paper work of her transfer was not filed with the CCS office.
"We didn't catch the situation in time and another school filed a complaint with CCS," Palo Alto Principal Phil Winston wrote in an e-mail. "So, we did an investigation and the result, based on CCS rules, is the team has to forfeit the games the student played in.
"This has raised questions for me about our enrollment process and the checks and balances within our athletic department for new students that want to play a sport," Winston added. "This terrible, unfortunate situation has caused us to review our enrollment process and has resulted in additional checks and balances to ensure this doesn't ever happen again."
Winston added that the student and family are not responsible for the situation.
"We are responsible for this unfortunate situation," he said. "We also have an action plan to ensure this doesn't happen again."
Hansen, who said he was unaware the new athlete was on the team, also said the athlete needed to get the proper papers from him, which he also needs to sign. But, that never happened despite the fact head coach Jamie Nesbitt reportedly informed the athlete to what needed to be done.
"The paper work was not done," said Hansen. "I don't think there was any malicious intent; that one piece of paper was not filed with the CCS."
Hansen said letters were sent to the schools involved in the forfeits and apologies were made by Palo Alto. Despite the foul up, Hansen didn't lay blame on the athlete or coach. It was pretty much a lack of communication.
"This one just fell through the cracks," he said.
The Vikings are now 3-7 in league and 5-9 overall following Friday's victory over Gunn. The teams were tied at halftime, 5-5, but the Vikings pulled ahead in the second half with outstanding performances by junior goalkeeper Emma Beckstrom plus senior captains Kimmie Flather and Emy Kelty.
The second half started out like the first half, with Kelty finding Flather for a goal. Charlotte Biffar followed with her second goal for a 7-5 lead. Kelty and Flather hooked up for a third time and it was 8-5. Beckstrom blocked Gunn's counter attack, making one save after another while Nina Kelty added two goals to give the Vikings a 10-5 advantage.
However, the Titans didn't give up and scored three unanswered goals by Nora Shevick, Samantha Donat the Maddie Sabbag. Beckstrom saw to it that the Vikings stayed ahead, making her 11th save of the game with 19 seconds remaining on the clock.
Flather finished with four goals while Nina Kelty added three and Biffar had two plus an assist. Emy Kelty provided three assists while Sabbag led Gunn with three goals.
Palo Alto still has four league matches remaining and could finish 7-7 by winning all four. A postseason playoff berth is not out of the question just yet for a team that won the SCVAL playoff title two seasons ago and finished second last season to St. Francis.
In the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division), Menlo School maintained its grip on first place with an 18-2 romp over visiting Menlo-Atherton. The Knights improved to 6-0 and 9-4 while the Bears fell to 3-3 and 5-3 overall. Menlo led at the half, 15-1.
Menlo junior Michaela Michael led the way with five goals and two assists. Brooke Bullington added three goals and two assists with Ali Kim contributing two goals and two assists while senior attacker Sophie Sheeline made a strong comeback (from injury) with two goals.
Menlo is now ranked No. 9 in the entire West region (of 354 in CA, CO, WA, AZ, OR, UT, NV, ID) behind St. Ignatius (No. 8) and Carondelet (No. 4), according to laxpower.com. In California, Menlo is currently No. 7 (behind No. 6 St. Ignatius, and No. 3 Carondelet of NorCal teams, of 180 total).