Sacred Heart Prep took a shot at perfection on Friday, but the Gators missed in West Bay Athletic League boys' soccer action. Instead of finishing up 14-0 for its first perfect league season since 2010, SHP suffered a shocking 1-0 loss to host King's Academy.
The Gators finished the regular season 13-1 (14-5-1) while winning their sixth straight league crown. The last time SHP lost in league play was 2011, to King's Academy.
"Kings is, no doubt, our soccer rival," said SHP coach Armando del Rio, who is now 49-2-5 in WBAL play in his fourth year. "They are the team we have never beaten twice. We did a poor job of winning first and second balls and going to the ball strongly at speed -- it really came down to that. The game is all about the ball and we didn't seem to want it as much as they did. We missed key players as well due to illness and injury, which didn't help.
"However, I really feel it is positive for us: this humbles us, and brings to light one of our favorite quotes: 'Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.' We learn, move on, and focus on preparing to win the day Monday in practice."
Also in the WBAL, Menlo defeated visiting Priory, 6-1, for its third straight win. The Knights, however, may see their bid for a CCS berth fall short due to the King's Academy win over SHP.
The Knights (12-5-3 overall, 10-3-1 in league) knew they needed a win and SHP not to lose to clinch the second spot in league and the automatic CCS bid that goes with it. They also knew all they could do was take care of their business and wasted no time as they took the lead within the first two minutes. Sophomore defender Andrew Arnold played a great thru ball to junior midfielder Peter Rosston who beat the Panthers' goalie.
A few minutes later, junior midfielder Chris Strong fed his brother, senior captain John Strong, a cross at the top of the box. John trapped it first time and fired a sweeping half volley into the bottom corner to double the Knights' lead and provide the eventual winning tally. John Strong added another goal minutes later off a pass from sophomore striker Tyler McGraw.
Leading scorer sophomore striker Will Chisholm made it 4-0 after good service from sophomore defender Michael Quezada. Menlo added a fifth goal before halftime after Chisholm served a dangerous ball to the back post that a Priory defender turned into his own net.
Priory pulled a goal back early in the second half before senior Kevin Walker scored Menlo's final goal off a good cross from freshman Zach Davila.
"It is a bittersweet way to end the season," said second-year head coach Marc Kerrest. "With three games to play, I told the boys we needed to win out to make CCS and they accepted the challenge and got it done. It stings a little more because we are playing our best soccer of the season. We scored five goals mid-week against Crystal then six today, our two highest tallies of the season.
"We did not expect SHP to lose, given they were on the verge of a perfect season but crazy things can happen in soccer. Credit to King's Academy for finishing the season the way they did. Hopefully, those two can represent the league well in CCS and make it possible for WBAL teams to gain at-large bids into CCS in the future."
Menlo will now keep its fingers crossed for an at-large CCS bid though it seems unlikely. The Knights had an impressive season despite a very young roster, often starting five or six sophomores. They bid farewell to a strong senior class of John Strong, Justin Wang, Travis Chambers, Kevin Walker, Efe Sarinalbant and Matt Myers.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton played first-place Burlingame to a scoreless first half in their showdown on Friday. Unfortunately for the Bears, the Panthers exploded for four second-half goals and walked away with a 4-0 victory to close the regular season. M-A finished in second place with an 8-4-2 record (11-5-2 overall) and has an automatic berth into the CCS playoffs that begin next week.
With junior Marissa Hing scoring 21 points and dishing out eight assists, Pinewood advanced to the championship game of the WBAL playoffs with a 69-46 victory over Mercy-San Francisco on Friday at King's Academy in Sunnyvale.
The top-seeded Panthers (24-1) will play defending champion Eastside Prep (17-8) for the title on Saturday in the same gym at 5 p.m.
Freshman Akayla Hackson also had a big game for the Panthers with 18 points and five assists. Senior Leeana Bade added 11 points and eight rebounds with sophomore Chloe Eackles contributing seven points and 11 rebounds. The Panthers made 13 3-pointers and 13 2-pointers.
In the other semifinal, Brije Byers tossed in 21 points and Destiny Graham aded 17 points and 13 rebounds as Eastside Prep rolled to a 58-30 win over Menlo School. Charmaine Bradford added 14 points for the Panthers, who forced 18 turnovers and had 13 steals while getting off 20 more shots than the Knights.
Menlo (15-11) was led by sophomore Hannah Paye, who had nine points, including two 3-pointers to become Menlo's all-time 3-point scorer with 108. That broke Lauren Lete's previous record.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn came up with its biggest victory of the season, a 53-50 upset of previously unbeaten Wilcox to wrap up the regular season.
The Titans (7-5, 8-7) did give up 29 points to Josetta Fatuesi, but held the rest of the Chargers to single-digit scoring. Wilcox fell to 11-1 in league (21-3 overall). Camille Steger (16) and Zoe Zwerling (14) combined for 30 points to lead Gunn, which held the Chargers to just four points in the third quarter.
Palo Alto, meanwhile dropped a 37-31 decision to visiting Los Gatos in the Vikings' final game in their 85-year-old gym, which will be demolished in June to make way for a new athletics facility. Paly fell to 5-7 in league (11-12 overall), failing to get any one player in double-digit scoring.
(Menlo School Athletics contributed)