Menlo School picked a good time to start a winning streak in boys' soccer, as the Knights open West Bay Athletic League action Wednesday at home against Pinewood at 3:30 p.m.
After starting the season winless (0-2-2), Menlo caught fire on its two-match swing through Monterey County with nonleague wins over Carmel and Pacific Grove.
"We have a very young team but our performances the last two games show that we are starting to come together at the right time" said second-year coach Marc Kerrest. "It is difficult to single anyone out as the entire team put in a solid performance today."
Menlo's latest victory came on Saturday against the host Breakers as the Knights (2-2-2) wrapped up their preseason schedule.
Menlo started the game strongly as senior captain John Strong received a through ball from junior midfielder Peter Rosston and confidently slotted it by the Pacific Grove keeper. A few minutes later, sophomore striker Will Chisholm flicked on a throw-in that fell to fellow sophomore Matt Joss in the box. Joss held off his defender and beat the Breakers' goalie to put Menlo up 2-0 just 15 minutes in.
From there Menlo lost control of the game and started conceding possession to Pacific Grove in midfield. The Knights stopped creating chances and ultimately the Breakers took advantage, pulling a goal back just a few minutes before the half after a breakdown in the Menlo defense.
The Knights started the second half with renewed vigor and intensity. They pressed Pacific Grove high up the field, winning the ball back quickly and keeping the Breakers pinned deep in their half. Their relentless effort led to many chances but the Pacific Grove keeper did well to keep his team in the game.
Ultimately, the Knights put the game away after Chisholm was fouled in the box and the ref awarded Menlo a penalty kick. Senior captain Justin Wang stepped up and calmly slotted the ball past the keeper to put the game out of reach.
Defending WBAL champ Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, certainly isn't heading into its league opener with momentum. The Gators (1-4-1) came away winless from its fifth straight match, a 2-0 loss to host Hillsdale on Saturday. The Gators next will host Harker on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
Elsewhere in nonleague action, host Gunn rallied from a one-goal deficit at halftime and scored three goals after intermission to forge a 4-4 deadlock with St. Francis. Junior Gonzalo Torres scored the tying goal for the Titans (3-3-1) following unassisted goals by senior Elyas Daadi and junior Guy Kasznik. Senior midfielder Tejas Kannan provied Gunn's first goal off an assist from junior co-captain Luis Hernandez.
The Titans open their SCVAL El Camino Division season on Wednesday against visiting Homestead at 4 p.m.
Pinewood completed a three-game sweep of the annual Head Royce Tournament with a 38-36 victory over the host team on Saturday in Oakland.
Ryan Brice led a balanced scoring attack for Pinewood with nine points with Greg Naumann adding eight. The Panthers (8-2) reached the finals with a 59-54 win over Urban on Friday as Brice tossed in 16 points and Naumann added 11. Brice was named MVP of the tournament while Naumann was named to the all-tournament team.
In San Mateo, Sacred Heart Prep grabbed an early lead and held on for a big 48-47 nonleague win over host Serra. Corbin Koch led the Gators (3-4) with 13 points, the final two coming on free throws with four seconds left to give SHP the win. James McLean added 12 for SHP, which had to overcome 10-for-20 free-throw shooting. The Gators open WBAL action Tuesday at King's Academy.
In Half Moon Bay, Menlo-Atherton tuned up for its PAL South Division opener by overcoming host Half Moon Bay, 42-37, in overtime on Saturday. Seniors Leland Callahan and Oliver Bucka led the Bears (7-4) with 10 points each. Bucka also pulled down 11 rebounds. M-A will host Burlingame on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
At Milpitas, Gunn defeated Mt. Pleasant for the second time this season while posting a 48-32 win on the third-place game of the Cain Classic. Chris Russell led the Titans (8-3) with 14 points while Alex Gill-Fernandez finished with 10. Gunn opens SCVAL El Camino Division play on Wednesday at Wilcox.
At Palo Alto, the host Vikings (5-6) dropped its second straight in as many nights, 56-52, to Northgate of Concord. Clark Schmutz led Paly with 17 points with Noah Phillips adding 15.
Getting 12 points from freshman Ofa Sili, Menlo-Atherton defeated host Half Moon Bay, 43-29, in nonleague action on Saturday. The Cougars got into foul trouble early in the game and M-A (7-3) capitalized by racing to a 25-10 halftime lead. The Bears' ferocious defense frustrated Half Moon Bay all game, especially in the second quarter when the Cougars did not have a field goal. M-A sophomore Annalisa Crowe hit two 3-pointers and added two steals.
Menlo School split its games on the San Diego tour after a 3-0 loss to defending San Diego Section champion Francis Parker on Saturday. Menlo was led by senior midfielder Emma LaPorte, junior defenders Lizzie Lacy and Tess Batchelder, and freshman defender Claire McFarland. Sophomore goalkeeper Schuyler Tilney-Volk had 10 saves for the Knights. Menlo (4-3-1) opens WBAL play on Thursday (3:30 p.m.) at Sacred Heart Prep.
The Gators (5-1-1) are coming off a 1-0 loss to Woodside on Saturday.
Stephen Martin won an individual title at 182 pounds to help his Gunn teammates score 140 points and take third at the annual Bianchini Invitational on Saturday at Cupertino High. The Titans trailed only Bakersfield (183.5 points and Monta Vista (158) in the 36-team event, which Gunn won last year.
Martin came into the meet ranked No. 4 in the Central Coast Section and No. 20 in the state at 182. He went 4-0 with three pins while improving to 8-0 this season. In the title match, he posted a 6-0 decision over Tijani Karaborni of Monta Vista.
Gunn, with Michael Abramovitch taking second at 106 pounds, also finished ahead of St. Francis (sixth), Mitty (eighth) and Palo Alto (10th with 71.5 points).
Cadence Lee finished third at 113 pounds for Gunn, compiling a 4-1 record with three pins. Ian Cramer (138) also went 4-1 and took third in his division with two pins in his final two matches.
For Paly, James Giaccia was second at 126 pounds, Josh Deckelman was second at 152 and Eric Oshima was sixth at 160.
At the Salinas Valley Challenge at Alisal High in Salinas, Menlo-Atherton freshman Chelsea Wilson won the 98-pound division.