The Palo Alto girls' lacrosse team came up big on defense in the second half of the game and held on for the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League playoff title against visiting Saratoga, 15-13, Saturday morning.
"I'm speechless right now," said Palo Alto senior Ami Drez, who scored four goals. "In my whole Paly career I've never won the championship. It's really amazing."
With the game tied at 10 early in the second half, the Paly defense held Saratoga scoreless for 17:06. During the Falcons' scoring drought, the Vikings scored four goals and took momentum.
"We came back and we took the draw and once we got the ball we just didn't let them have it," said Drez.
With 19 second left to go in the first half, Paly junior Paige Bara juked out a Falcons defender and scored, giving Palo Alto its first lead of the game at 9-8.
Early in the second half, Saratoga's Ingrid Hong fired in a goal to tie the game at 10. Hong had a solid game and finished with six goals, leading all scorers.
Paly junior Allie Peery made it a four-point game when she scored on a penalty shot, giving the offense energy and making it a 14-10 game late in the second half. Peery finished with four goals.
"I think some early come from behind wins in the season gave us the confidence in this game that we could do it," said Paly head coach Jamie Nesbitt.
Sophomore goalie Meredith Kinnaman was huge for the Vikings in the second half as she made eight saves while helping secure the victory.
"She's phenomenal," said Nesbitt. "She really takes it to heart about how much she works and how hard she prepares. She feels a lot of that on her shoulders despite being a sophomore. For her to mentally make that adjustment and comeback in the second half is just absolutely amazing. It shows more maturity than a sophomore usually shows."
"The key was resiliency," said Nesbitt. "I think for them, it was just riding those ups and riding up those downs and making sure we kept momentum when we could."
In the West Bay Athletic League playoff finale, Sacred Heart Prep completed its first-ever season sweep of rival Menlo School in lacrosse as the Gators held on for a 13-12 victory on Saturday morning at Harker School in Saratoga.
The Gators wrapped up a 19-5 season with their third one-goal victory over the Knights (16-6) this season, while defending their playoff title.
Sophomores Libby Muir and Ally Mayle plus senior Caroline Cummings all had three goals and one assist for SHP. Teammate Brigid White added two goals with Cameron Gordon and Allison Harman scoring once each.
Muir reportedly suffered a torn ACL in her left leg the final moments of the match.
Menlo lost Alyssa Sherman to an injury with about three minutes left. Fellow defender Chelsea Sahami missed the game with an injury.
The Knights, who trailed by 9-6 at halftime, were led by freshman Sophia Donovan's career-high nine goals -- six in the second half to help rally Menlo from an 11-7 deficit. Menlo goalie Alena Stern had 10 saves.
Sacred Heart Prep captured its first-ever SCVAL playoff title in lacrosse with a 12-7 victory over Menlo-Atherton on Saturday night at Woodside High. The triumph avenged the Gators' loss to the Bears in last year's title match and capped a 15-5 season. M-A finished 12-10.
The Gators, who have been playing only four years, defeated the Bears twice during the SCVAL De Anza Division season, during which SHP finished on top with an 11-1 mark.
Senior Sean Mayle had three goals and one assist in addition to winning all 17 of his draw controls and grabbing 18 ground balls. Senior Frankie Hattler added two goals and five assists, senior Noah Kawasaki and Frank Bell had two goals each and senior goalie Jack Wise stopped 17 shots.
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