The Menlo School boys set themselves up for a showdown for first place with a 2-0 win over visiting Eastside Prep in West Bay Athletic League soccer action Wednesday.
The Knights (7-1-1, 9-3-3) will visit league-leading Sacred Heart Prep (9-0, 10-4-1) on Friday at 3:30 p.m., needing a victory to move within two points of the top spot.
Menlo heads into the match with a record of 0-9-2 against SHP since the teams began playing each other in the WBAL in 2009. The Gators, meanwhile, haven't lost a league match since Feb. 16, 2011 when King's Academy came up with the upset. Since 2010, SHP is a remarkable 56-1-5 in WBAL matches.
Menlo takes some momentum into the showdown following its win on Wednesday. The Knights started strongly and were ahead in the opening minutes. Senior captain Justin Wang played a perfect diagonal pass over the top of the Eastside defense to sophomore Keaton Shiveley on the left wing. Shiveley controlled the ball and found fellow sophomore Tyler McGraw in the middle of the box. McGraw settled the ball with his first touch and calmly slotted it into the side netting to give his side the lead.
The second half played out fairly similarly to the first as the Knights had several opportunities to extend their lead. After missing a few chances of his own, Shiveley again turned provider, this time nipping the ball off a Panthers defender before finding junior forward Jackson Wagner in the front of the box. Wagner passed the ball into the empty net to assure the win for his team.
Junior goalie Alex Moore notched his third straight shutout and sixth in league with the help of solid defending from sophomores Michael Quezada, Andrew Arnold and Kian Seddighnezhad and seniors Wang and Travis Chambers.
In Hillsborough, Sacred Heart Prep maintained its hold on first place in with a 4-2 win over host Crystal Springs. The Gators (9-0, 10-4-1), who are seeking their sixth straight league title, put up three goals in the first half to secure the win. Junior Philip Petrakian scored the first goal with senior Frankie Hattler assisting. Senior Will Mishra and senior Andrew Segre followed with goals, Hattler assisting on Segre's. Sacred Heart Prep made it 4-0 in the second half when Hattler got his third assist as Mishra converted.
In Portola Valley, host Priory pinned a 5-0 loss on Pinewood. Priory (2-6-1, 4-8-2) got three goals from Austin Mirabella with assists from Max Reines, Ben Clock and Alex Oberman. Clock also scored on an assist from Sergio Lopez while David Casente added to the shutout with Mirabella getting an assist.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto won for the first time in seven matches and woke up offensively with a 4-0 victory over visiting Saratoga.
The Vikings (2-3-4, 6-6-5) got the winning goal in the first half when Roberto Sotelo made a nice through pass to Ed Chen, who placed it into the lower left corner. The Vikings controlled the second half and scored three more goals between the 10- and 22-minute marks.
Cole Tierney scored on an assist by Preston Kuppe, Dami Bolarinwa made it 3-0 with Tierney assisting and Bolarinwa finished the scoring four minutes later off another assist from Kuppe.
Paly still has a struggle to move up in the standings as Los Gatos still tops the division with an 8-0-1 mark. The Vikings' victory, however, did move them into fourth place after Los Altos dropped a 1-0 decision to third-place Santa Clara.
The Gunn at Milpitas match was not reported.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton pulled away from a tie at halftime and remained in the hunt for the division title with a 4-2 victory over host San Mateo.
The Bears (6-1-2, 9-2-2), who are just one point behind first-place Woodside, found themselves in a 2-2 halftime deficit despite goals from Jorge Lopez and Kyle Smith with assists from Santos Valle and Carlos Mangandi Macario. Lopez, a sophomore, added two more goals in the second half with Mario Rodriguez and Ethan Oro providing the assists. Lopez now has scored 12 goals in league play.
Palo Alto moved to within two games of first place by upsetting first-place Los Altos, 55-51, in SCVAL De Anza Division action Wednesday night. The host Vikings moved to 5-3 in league (11-9 overall) while handing the Eagles (6-1, 14-6) their first division loss.
Paly had to rally from a 39-33 deficit in the third quarter after Los Altos went on a 9-0 run. A layup by Paly senior Noah Phillips with less than four minutes to play gave the Vikings the lead for good. Phillips finished with 16 points while junior Kevin Mullin led the way with 17.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, junior Chris Russell scored 19 points but Gunn fell apart defensively while dropping an 86-67 decision to host Santa Clara. The Bruins scored 55 second-half points while pulling away and dropping Gunn to 3-4 in league (11-9 overall). Patrick Skelly and Alex Gil-Fernandez added 15 and 14 points, respectively, to the Gunn effort.
In the PAL South Division, Oliver Bucka poured in 20 points as Menlo-Atherton snapped a two-game losing streak with a 56-42 romp over visiting San Mateo on Wednesday night. The Bears (5-4, 12-8) trailed by one at halftime, but outscored the Bearcats by 30-15 in the second half. Royce Branning added 12 points for M-A.
Menlo-Atherton continued its solid season by defeating host San Mateo, 50-30, in PAL South Division action Wednesday. The Bears (7-2, 17-6) came up with a solid defense that stifled the Bearcats all night.
M-A, however, had trouble on the offensive end and was tied after the opening quarter at 8. As the game progressed the Bears' shooting improved, particularly in the third quarter when freshman Ilana Baer scored six of her eight points on the night.
The Bears were led by sophomore post Sally Carlson, who scored 12, and senior captain Emma Heath, who had nine. The Bears now have a five-game winning streak in the PAL South.
Gunn won its fourth straight and sixth in the past seven matches with a 2-0 victory over visiting Milpitas in SCVAL El Camino Division action Wednesday night.
The Titans (6-2-1, 9-3-2) got the eventual winning goal from Ming-Ming Liu, assisted by Caroline Anderson, in the first half. Liu made it 2-0 in the second half off an assist from Kirsten Butner. With three matches remaining, Gunn continues to make a strong push for a possible Central Coast Section playoff berth after missing out last season.
In SCVAL De Anza Division play, Palo Alto remained among the league leaders with a 2-0 victory over host Saratoga. The Vikings improved to 5-1-3 in league (8-3-4 overall) while winning their second straight. Paly has lost only once in its past 13 matches.
The Vikings got their second shutout win over the Falcons with both goals coming in the first half. At 10 minutes in, Heidi Moeser centered a ball that Saratoga couldn't clear and Katie Foug one-touched it for a 1-0 lead.
With 11 minutes remaining in the half, Jacey Pederson stole the ball at midfield and drove down to within 18 yards before getting her shot blocked. Saratoga, however, couldn't clear the ball fast enough and Paly's Julia Kwasnick came all the way up from the back line to take control and fire in the second goal.