Uploaded: Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 9:23 PM
SHP boys take control of WBAL soccer race by edging Menlo
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|The Sacred Heart Prep boys' soccer team came into this season never having lost to rival Menlo School in West Bay Athletic League action. That streak remains intact.
In a showdown between two teams with identical league and overall marks while sharing first place in the WBAL, visiting Sacred Heart Prep took over sole possession of first place with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday.
The Gators improved to 6-0 in league (9-2-1 overall) while the Knights fell to 5-1 (8-3-1). SHP is 7-0-2 against Menlo since both teams began WBAL play in 2009. Prior to that, the Knights competed in the Peninsula Athletic League and the Gators played in the PSAL's fall schedule.
Sacred Heart Prep's Andrew Segre provided the winning goal in the 27th minute, taking a pass from Robert Hellman and dodging an onrushing Menlo keeper Tim Costa, before finding the back of the net in an open cage.
"I was happy with our intensity and team attitude, and while we moved the ball and touched the ball with more ease, I felt we were too tense," said SHP coach Armando del Rio. "We are capable of playing at a faster tempo with the ball on the ground. When we combined quickly and decisively on the ground, we created. For instance, our goal was an excellent execution of combination play, quick touches, great final pass, poised finish by Andrew Segre.
"In the second half, they sent more numbers forward, and they are capable of creating havoc off of loose balls and set pieces. I was proud of our fierce defending as a team, our goalie (Hugo Sanchez) and our backline. I thought we managed the lead well through unnerving moments. Our experience and character prevailed."
Despite coming into the game tied for first, Menlo was shorthanded with a number of injuries. Standout freshman Andrew Arnold, for example, suffered a skiing injury last weekend during a school trip and landed in a Reno hospital. Two other Menlo players were sidelined by concussions. Bottom line, the Knights were not at full strength.
"I know they were missing a key starter (Andrew) Schmitt, but we also had a starter out with mono and players sick," del Rio said. "Last week the flu went through us like a plague and now it's the cold. So one of our mottos is next man up because we trust our players to make an impact when called upon, and our ethos is win the day, live/play/enjoy/focus on the current moment. We can't worry who we have or don't have and the same for the opponent because right now illness and injury is present for all."
Despite all the health and injury problems, Menlo started strongly and had a chance to take the lead in the opening minutes. Junior John Strong took the ball past several SHP defenders down the left wing, but his cross was just in front of senior captain Max Parker.
From there SHP took control of the first half, dominating possession and winning countless loose balls in midfield. After getting the winning goal, midway through the half, Sacred Heart Prep controlled the rest of the half and was unfortunate not to add to its tally.
The Knights came out with renewed vigor in the second half. They had a few good chances after three successive corner kicks, but Sanchez was solid in the cage. Menlo senior Ryan Karle nearly evened the match a few minutes later with a solid volley, but again Sanchez was up to the task.
"Menlo has a great team," del Rio said. "It was a competitive game and it will be again at our place. To us, every league game is a big game and a rivalry because everyone plays us with everything. It's why league play is tough and why we must always move on, win the day, and live out our ethos, because we must always be sharp and at our best."
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, host Palo Alto opened the second half of league play as it did the first half with a 2-0 victory over Monta Vista. The Vikings moved to 4-1-1 in league for 13 points (8-3-2 overall) and remained in third place, one point out of second. Fremont has a near-insurmountable lead with 21 points (7-0).
Monta Vista controlled the ball early in the first half before giving up a quick counter to Paly senior Chris Meredith, who picked up a loose ball and dribbled past a Monta Vista defender before facing a one-on-one with the keeper and scoring.
Paly keeper Tony Maharaj twice deflected shots away from inside the penalty box early in the second half. Senior Kirby Gee made it a 2-0 match in the 33rd minute on an assist from Meredith.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton lost a share of first place following a 2-0 loss at San Mateo in a battle between last season's co-champs. The victory gave the Bearcats 11 points in league and left the Bears (3-2-1, 6-3-2) with 10.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, the Santa Clara at Gunn match was not reported.
Palo Alto remained in first place in the SCVAL El Camino Division following a 2-0 victory over second-place Santa Clara on Wednesday on the Bruins' field.
The Vikings, who played to a 1-1 deadlock with Santa Clara in their first meeting, improved to 6-0-1 (7-4-2) for 19 points while the Bruins fell back to 4-1-2 and 14 points. Palo Alto now has scored 32 goals in its six division wins.
Paly outshot Santa Clara 9-1 in the first half, which ended scoreless. After intermission, Sunny Lyu took a pass from Aoi Sugihara and found the net from 25 yards out. Nine minutes later, Nina Kelty made it a 2-0 game. Paly keeper Erin Chang made the shutout stand up with some solid play.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn ended a five-match losing streak with a 1-1 deadlock with host Monta Vista. The Titans are now 0-6-1 in league (1-8-3 overall).
Sacred Heart Prep remained tied for first place in the WBAL with a 54-43 win over host Priory on Wednesday. The Gators moved to 5-1 in league (9-7 overall) while the Panthers fell to 2-4 and 5-9.
SHP grabbed a 17-8 first-quarter lead maintained a solid advantage throughout. Ian Bennett led the way with 16 points with Ricky Galliani adding 11. Andy Dolezalek paced Priory with 16 points. The Panthers got to the free-throw line for only nine attempts (making six) while the Gators were 17 of 25.
In the PAL South Division, Oliver Bucka scored 14 points for Menlo-Atherton in a 58-43 loss to visiting Aragon. The Bears (1-4, 5-12) got to within 40-35 before the end of the third period, but no closer. Now, they face not making the Central Coast Section playoffs if they fail to have a .500 mark in either preseason or league.
Gunn fell two games behind first-place Lynbrook following a 68-45 blowout loss to visiting Wilcox on Wednesday night. The Titans (3-2, 10-5) fell into a two-way tie for third with Palo Alto as Wilcox improved to 4-2. Paly hosts Gunn on Friday at 6:15 p.m.
Gunn trailed by six after one quarter before the Chargers pulled ahead with a 20-8 advantage in the second quarter. The Titans failed to have a single player in double figures, with Zoe Zwerling coming close with nine.
In the PAL South Division, visiting Menlo-Atherton overcame a one-point deficit by hitting nine of 10 free throws in the final period as the Bears posted a 42-35 victory over Aragon.
Emma Heath led the first-place Bears (5-0, 9-8) with 21 points, 11 coming at the free-throw line. M-A outscored the Dons in the final quarter, 16-8, to strengthen its title hopes.
— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports
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