Palo Alto boys win Oak Grove Gold Cup tournament title

Palo Alto wrapped up its 2012 boys' preseason soccer schedule and earned a well-deserved holiday break by winning the Oak Grove Gold Cup tournament in dramatic fashion on Saturday night in San Jose.

Not only did the Vikings win on penalty kicks, 4-2, but they did so against previously unbeaten Alisal. The final score was 1-1 following regulation.

Alisal (5-0-1) went ahead in the 20th minute of the first half on a corner kick that was not cleared from back of the goal. The ball rattled around in front of the goal when an Alisal player deflected the ball off one of the Vikings' defenders past diving Paly junior keeper Tony Maharaj.

Paly (4-2-1) had several chances to score in the first half, but the two Alisal centerbacks played an aggressive sliding defense to clear the ball several times from the Vikings' attackers.

Palo Alto finally scored in the second half off a cross by junior Cina Vacir. Senior Paul Stefanski did an acrobatic diving header that was hit squarely into the upper left-hand corner to deadlock the match.

Paly had several more chances to go ahead in the final 10 minutes of regulation, including one chance with an open goal. Paly shut down Alisal in the second half with a tough marking defense led by Maharaj in the goal along with center backs Alex Chin and Kirby Gee (both seniors) supported by junior Neal Biswah and senior Jacob Dorward at the corners.

The match ended with an overtime tie decided by a penalty-kick shootout. Maharaj blocked the first Alisal attempt and Christian Huard scored the first point for Paly. Gee and Chin both scored and Maharaj made another nice diving save that was called off for encroachment by the keeper. Alisal made the re-kick.

Paly's Perry Kollias then made the next goal. Alisal hit the crossbar on its next attempt to hand the decision to the Vikings, who are off until opening the SCVAL El Camino Division season on January 4.

In another Gold Cup match, Sacred Heart Prep posted a 5-2 victory over Harbor on Saturday morning. Willy Lamb scored twice and Robert Hellman had one goal and two assists for the Gators (3-2).

Lamb got both his goals in the first half with Andrew Segre and Joe Callinan also scoring for a 4-0 halftime bulge. Harbor made it 4-1 on a penalty kick before Hellman got the goal back with his seventh goal in three matches.

Sacred Heart Prep is now off for the holidays until January.

At the Homestead Christmas Cup tournament, Menlo-Atherton got a goal from senior Felix Velazquez but it wasn't enough as the Bears (1-1-1) dropped a 2-1 decision to Gilroy.

In girls' action, Menlo-Atherton (2-1-2) played to a 1-1 deadlock with Sequoia in the Burlingame Tournament. In other tourney matches, Pinewood and Capuchino played to a 1-1 tie and Priory deadlocked San Mateo, 2-2.

— Palo Alto Online Sports


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