In a game it absolutely needed to win, the Palo Alto boys' soccer team defeated first-place Fremont, 1-0, in SCVAL El Camino Division action on Friday. The Vikings (6-2-1) moved to within five points of the Firebirds (8-2) with the triumph. Fremont has two games remaining while Paly has three.
Paly scored in the first three minutes and held on. Paul Stefanski made a long cross to Cina Vazir, who laid it off to Preston Kuppe, who took one touch to his left and drilled a left-footed shot in the upper corner. Both teams had a few opportunities, including a Fremont shot from the penalty kick mark that was knocked away by Paly keeper Tony Maharaj.
In the second half, Paly continued playing a well- organized defense and shut out Fremont's league- leading scorer Leonardo Silva. Maharaj, Alex Chin, Jacob Dorward, Neal Biswas, and Kirby Gee had excellent defensive games. Paly freshman Dami Bolarinwa had the key role in shutting down Silva.
The game ended with Maharaj being called for handling the ball outside the box. The ball was placed in the center, at the top of the box. With a nine-man wall, Fremont shot shot sailed just over the crossbar and Maharaj's outstretched hand. The referee then whistled for the end of the match.
In the West Bay Athletic League, first-place Sacred Heart Prep saw its big lead trimmed a bit following a 0-0 deadlock with host Crystal Springs on Friday. The Gators moved to 8-0-2 in league (26 points) and 11-2-3 overall.
In Atherton, Menlo School beat visiting King's Academy, 4-2, to keep the pressure on SHP. The Knights improved to 7-1-2 in league (23 points) and 10-3-3 overall while moving to within three points of SHP.
Menlo possessed the ball well in the opening few minutes but was quickly behind after King's took the lead following a decisive counter attack. Menlo was unfazed and, in the 19th minute sophomore Kyle Perez found junior John Strong down the left wing. Strong took a touch past his defender and put the ball in the side netting to put his team level.
In the second half, Menlo freshman Mason Brady picked up a loose ball in midfield and raced in on goal, putting Menlo ahead for good. A few minutes later, senior Ryan Karle got the ball down the right wing and played a ball to the back post, which Strong headed over the keeper and into the back of the net for his second of the game.
Ten minutes later Strong played a dangerous ball in behind the visitors' defense and Karle made no mistake, beating a defender and finishing to put the game out of reach. King's pulled a goal back with a few minutes to play, but Menlo saw the game out and got back to their winning ways. Menlo outshot King's, 22-11.
Palo Alto moved a step closer to wrapping up the SCVAL El Camino Division title with a 2-0 victory over host Fremont on Friday afternoon. The Vikings improved to 8-0-1 in league (10-4-1 overall) after holding off a team that Paly defeated by 8-1 in November due the Firebirds missing key players.
It took 25 minutes for the first score. Paly's Katherine Maniscalco stole the ball and advanced it all the way down the field, eventually passing to Megan Tall deep in Fremont's zone. Tall made a great cross to Sunny Lyu in front of the frame and she put it in for the lead. A minute later, it was Lyu returning the favor. With Heidi Moeser keeping Fremont's last defender occupied, Lyu found Tall for a 2-0 lead.
The second half startedt as even as the first. At 15 minutes in, Fremont finally solved the Paly defense -- getting through for a clear shot that missed just left. Paly answered with momentum, earning three corners in the next 10 minutes, but nothing was finding net. Both teams battled hard for the remainder of the game, but Paly preserved the shutout.