In each of the past three seasons, the winner of their head-to-head matches usually wound up as the league champion.
Sacred Heart Prep is 5-1 against Priory over the past three seasons, the only loss coming during the 2009-10 season that remains the only league loss suffered by the Gators over a three-year period.
Sacred Heart Prep finished 8-1-1 that season but Priory went 7-1-2 and lost out once again.
Sacred Heart Prep and Priory have yet to face each other this season, even though the Gators hold a controversial forfeit win over the Panthers from the Palo Alto Winter Classic in a match that wasn't even played.
Both teams are headed once again on a collision course, the first of two matches set for Thursday, Jan. 26 in Atherton at 2:45 p.m. The teams will meet again on a rare Saturday showdown on Feb. 4 at 11 a.m.
A lot can happen between now and next week as both teams still have plenty of matches. SHP will play three times before the showdown, including Saturday at home against rival Menlo School (10 a.m.), while Priory will play twice. Both, however, remained unbeaten in the WBAL Foothill Division following matches on Tuesday.
The day began with three teams tied for first place in the division. A few hours later, that number was down to two.
Sacred Heart Prep was chiefly responsible in the reduction of first-place teams as the Gators rallied for a 2-1 victory over visiting King's Academy. Priory, meanwhile, remained tied for the division lead following a 6-0 romp over visiting Mercy-Burlingame.
The Gators were in danger of falling out of the top spot when they gave up an early goal against King's Academy, but tied it up before halftime and won it after intermission to improve to 3-0 (5-2-4 overall).
King's grabbed a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute on a goal by Jordan Tuttle. The Gators battled back to tie in the 24h minute on an unassisted goal by Kendall Jager. With time running out, Jager scored in the 71st minute off an assist from Stephanie Terpening as the Gators knocked Kings' (1-1, 6-2-1) out of a share of first place.
Jager, who has scored seven goals in the past four matches, was marked in the first half but was overlooked in the second half as King's made some defensive adjustments.
In Portola Valley, host Priory (4-0, 7-2-2) got two goals from senior Darrah Shields plus single goals from Eugenia Jernick, Laura Wu, Molly Simpson and Siobhan Gillis while taking care of Mercy-Burlingame.
The Panthers next will host King's Academy on Saturday at 11 a.m.
In Atherton, Menlo School remained within reach of the leaders in the WBAL Foothill Division with a 3-1 victory over visiting Castilleja. The Knights (2-1, 4-4-2) jumped in front early as sophomore Sienna Stritter connected from 18 yards out unassisted.
Castilleja (0-3, 1-7) equalized five minutes later when sophomore Gabby Kaplan scored off an assist from senior Emily Mosbacher.
Menlo regained the lead at 30 minutes as sophomore Chandler Wickers followed up a shot by Ellie Still and scored from close range. Then 15 minutes into the second half, Wickers headed in a cross from Lindsay Karle.
Menlo dominated possession and outshot Castilleja, 30-10. Menlo's backs — senior Shannon Lacy, junior Hannah Rubin, sophomore Stritter, and freshmen Alex Walker — played well by limiting Castilleja's attacking opportunities. Menlo goalies Julia Dressel (five saves) and Kelly McConnell (four saves) split time in goal as usual.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton made a solid statement to belonging among the best of the division by deadlocking co-leader Carlmont, 1-1, on Tuesday in Belmont. Jenn Kirst scored her 13th goal of the season on assist from Meryssa Thompson in the 21st minute for the Bears (2-2-1, 6-4-1) while Carlmont (4-0-1, 6-2-3) equalized it off corner around the 70th minute.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division on Wednesday, Gunn took on the best and put up a fight before dropping a 3-1 decision to visiting Los Gatos. The teams played even for the first 70 minutes after Gunn's Haleli Moalem scored in the first half to deadlock things at 1-1.
The Wildcats (4-0, 10-0-1) ended the tie with a goal in the 70th minute and added a third tally when the Titans (1-2-1, 5-6-1) moved everyone up in attempt to deadlock the match once again. Gunn coach Damian Cohen singled out defenders Liza Marinaro, Bella Harbert, Alyssa Perreault and Laura Hayward for solid efforts.
With a balanced attack and an abundance of scoring chances, Menlo School defeated visiting Eastside Prep, 2-0, in a WBAL match on Wednesday.
The Knights improved to 3-1-1 in league (6-1-3 overall) and stayed within five points of first-place Sacred Heart Prep, the only team to beat Menlo in league play this season.
The first-half goal came off a long, penetrating solo run by senior defender Carson Witte, who found Ryan Karle and played him into space for his first of two goals on the day. The second-half scoring started with a John Strong creative dribble to Karle, who calmly found the far corner of the cage.
Menlo coach Mark Arya complimented his midfielders for their possession play and high work rate, among them Strong, Kyle Perez and Nick Batchelder. Outstanding in the back were Agustin Diaz, Glenn Baxter, Alec Drobac and Witte.
In Hillsborough, Priory got a goal from Kyle Kosling but needed more while dropping a 4-1 WBAL decision to Crystal Springs.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn remained unbeaten with a 2-0 victory over host Milpitas. The Titans (3-0-1, 6-2-3) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first half when Ben Sampson assisted on a goal by Cameron McElfresh. The Titans got an insurance goal after halftime when Andriy Khrustalyov scored on an assist from Johnny Sun. Goalie Richard Bullwinkle preserved the shutout win as Gunn stayed within five points of first-place Mountain View (5-0), a 3-1 winner over Homestead. The Titans will host the Mustangs on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton and host Burlingame battled to a scoreless deadlock. The Bears (1-0-2, 6-0-3), coming off a 4-2 win over Aragon last Friday, had a chance to win against the Panthers but an M-A penalty kick was blocked.