Palo Alto's Jacey Pederson finished her freshman soccer season in 2012-13 on suspension for competing in a U.S. National Team camp that wasn't sanctioned by the California Interscholastic Federation. That also cost her the first four matches of this season.
Pederson was back on the field for the first time since last year and made her presence felt by scoring the game-winning goal in Palo Alto's 3-2 nonleague win over visiting Gunn on Saturday.
Pederson got the winning tally with about two minutes left, ending a competitive battle from the rivals.
Palo Alto grabbed a 1-0 halftime lead on a goal by Julia Kwasnick. Gunn tied things in the second half on a goal by Ming-Ming-Liu. Paly's Heidi Moeser made it a 2-1 match before Kai Green deadlocked things again, setting up Pederson's winning goal.
Palo Alto improved to 3-2 heading into the holiday break while Gunn (3-1-1), also on break now, suffered its first setback after playing to a tie in its last match.
At the Burlingame Girls Soccer Tournament:
Menlo School defeated host Burlingame, 2-0, on Saturday. The first half ended in a scoreless tie, but 15 minutes into the second half Menlo senior Amanda McFarland scored off a corner kick from senior Chandler Wickers. Wickers then scored unassisted in the 34th minute on a 25-yard shot that found the upper corner of the goal. Sophomore Schuyler Tilney-Volk had nine saves in goal for Menlo, earning her second consecutive shutout.
Menlo-Atherton defeated Mills, 1-0, in another second-round match. The Bears (3-0-2) dominated the first half, out-shooting the Vikings, 13-0. However, the only goal of the game came when senior Marilena McCarty was fouled in the box and M-A was awarded a penalty kick. Senior Cayla Stillman converted with a low shot to the left corner and the first half finished 1-0.
In the second half, M-A continued to attack and had another 16 shots, but couldn't find the back of the net. The Mills side managed to break into Bears' territory more and got off four shots, but none requiring saves from either keeper -- junior Jacqueline Foody in net in the first half and sophomore Ilana Winawer in the second half.
In Atherton, sophomore Tierna Davidson scored in the 79th minute to lift Sacred Heart Prep to a 1-0 win over Mountain View as the Gators improved to 5-0.
In other tourney games at Burlingame, Priory dropped a 5-1 decision to Los Gatos and Pinewood fell to Capuchino, 3-2.
Pinewood remained unbeaten on the season and successfully defended its title at the annual Pinewood Classic with a 63-33 domination of Presentation on Saturday. The Panthers (6-0) were led by junior Marissa Hing's 14 points. She made four of seven 3-pointers. Senior Leeana Bade added 13 points, junior Gabi Bade finished with 11 points and sophomore Chloe Eackles had six points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals
Gunn got its first win of the season, 53-35, in the seventh-place game of the Pinewood Classic. After a slow start, the Titans (1-2) got rolling behind last year's all-league backcourt of Olivia Tapia (18 points) and Zoe Zwerling (nine points).
In the third-place game, Palo Alto dropped a 58-52 double-overtime decision to Valley Christian. Lauren Koyama had 16 points and Siggi Bengston added 15 for the Vikings (4-2), who rallied from a 34-28 deficit after three quarters to tie the game and send it to extra periods.
In Pacific Grove, Castilleja improved to 4-3 with a 67-24 win over Carmel at the Breaker Classic. The Gators raced to a 30-9 halftime lead behind 12 points from Yasmeen Afifi and nine from Maddie Tarr. Paige Vermeer made a trio of treys in the third quarter, which ended with Castilleja ahead by 58-18, and the Gators coasted home for their third straight victory.
Afifi finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, for her fourth double-double of the season. Tarr ended with 14 points and nine rebounds, and Vermeer scored 13 points with five steals. She is now fourth in career steals at Castilleja with 205.
In Sunnyvale, Meghan Holland scored a season-high 28 point and Riley Hemm added 18 as both Sacred Heart Prep players made the all-tournament team following the Gators' 59-35 victory over Lincoln in the third-place game of the King's Academy Holiday Tournament. Holland finished with a career-high eight 3-pointers.
In Pacifica, Menlo School rallied from a four-point halftime deficit to pull out a 62-52 victory over Piedmont Hills In the consolation championship of the Terra Nova Tournament. The Knights (3-2) were led by all-tournament selection Hannah Paye, who had 22 points -- including five 3-pointers. In addition to Paye, sophomore McKenzie Duffner contributed a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Menlo also got a big contribution from Sarah Rantz, who had eight points and several key defensive stops. However, it was the play of freshman point guard Sam Erisman that made everything work for Menlo as she had nine assists and nine points.
In Oakland, Eastside Prep (6-2) won the Paris Sisters Classic for the third time in four years with a 52-30 win over Rodriguez (Fairfield). Alexus Simon scored 21 points and was named the Most Valuable Player while teammates Destiny Graham and Brije Byers were named to the all-tournament team.
Gunn finished off a 5-0 week by holding off Leland, 57-54, in the championship game of the Los Gatos Wildcat Shootout. Senior Patrick Skelly and junior Chris Russell were named co-Most Valuable Players. Russell had a team-high 16 points for the Titans (7-2) in the finals with Alex Gill-Fernandez adding 14.
At the Burlingame Lions Club Tournament, Menlo-Atherton (2-2) finished third with a 55-50 win over Valley Christian. Oliver Bucka led the Bears (2-2) with 14 points while Royce Branning added 10, giving him 64 points in the three tourney games.
In the third-place game at the Piedmont Hills Tournament, Palo Alto (1-2) fell to Washington, 64-54. Junior Kevin Mullin led the Vikings with 16 points with junior Alex Dees adding 10. Keesean Johnson contributed seven points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Palo Alto got goals from Adrian Guzman and Cina Vazir and made them stand up for a 2-0 victory over Yerba Buena on Saturday in the Oak Grove Gold Cup.
"We outplayed them in the first half but, despite several chances, could not put it in the goal," said Paly coach Don Briggs.
Paly finally scored when Guzman, a sophomore, was fouled by Yerba Buena's keeper. Guzman took the penalty kick and easily found the corner of the net. Senior Cina Vazir (assist sophomore Roberto Sotelo) made it a 2-0 match early in the second half.
Paly failed to convert a pair of breakaway 1v1 opportunities, but had enough to advance to this Saturday's championship match.
Also playing in a title match this weekend is Priory, which advanced to the finals of the Homestead Christmas Cup following a 0-0 deadlock with Wilcox on Saturday. The Panthers (2-0-1) had only 11 available players, but got solid efforts from its captains -- Austin Mirabella, Bailey Marshek and Brandon Zarringham.
"This is our first time ever making the final and we're off to our best start to a season ever," said Priory coach Paul Moran.
Priory will face Hillsdale for the tourney title on Saturday at Homestead High at 11 a.m.
It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Gunn, one where a lot of starters who had graduated were replaced by a lot of untested newcomers.
It certainly didn't look that way on Saturday as the Titans dominated the ninth annual Gunn Quad.
Gunn started with a 65-12 trouncing of a hapless Salinas squad. Salinas has a large team (60 on its roster), but for one reason or another the Cowboys brought only seven starters. The Titans won five of the seven matches contested and won the other seven by forfeit.
Gunn then squared off against Pioneer, which on the other mat had just defeated Serra, 39-33. The Titans, however, were on fire and won all but one match in a 74-6 blowout.
This meant that the Titans were 2-0 heading into what was usually an even dual with Serra. Gunn again wrestled with a lot of intensity and defeated Serra, 51-24.
At the Webber Lawson Tournament at Fremont High, Palo Alto finished 23rd out of 36 teams. James Giaccia won his first varsity tournament, taking the crown at 126 pounds.
At the Golden Gate Invitational at George Washington High in San Francisco, Menlo-Atherton finished fourth and had four medalists.
Austin Wilson was the champion at 138 pounds and was named the Most Outstanding Middleweight while going 4-0. Teammate Donald (Buster) LaHaye was second at 182, Anthony Andrighetto finished fourth at 126 and Sam Stroud was fourth at 170.