Publication Date: Wednesday, February 23, 2005|
This showdown meant everything
This showdown meant everything
(February 23, 2005) Third meeting between Gunn and Palo Alto boys assures one local team of reaching championship
by Keith Peters
It's likely the Gunn and Palo Alto boys' soccer teams will be at Friday's Central Coast Section Division II championship match at Piedmont Hills in San Jose.
Only one of the squads, however, will be playing.
The rivals met Tuesday night to decide who would be playing and who would be spectating, despite the fact both deserved to be competing for a title after proving themselves to be among the best teams in the section this season.
Gunn coach David Burgee, for one, believes Tuesday's showdown was more of a championship match than a semifinal.
"I think whichever team wins will be CCS champion," Burgee said.
Burgee went into the match having never beaten Palo Alto. Gunn senior Alex Guzinski hasn't beaten the Vikings since 2003. Both were hoping those streaks of futility were going to end Tuesday night.
The top-seeded Titans took a 20-2-3 record into the showdown while the No. 4-seeded Vikings were 15-4-3. Gunn advanced with a 2-0 rain-soaked victory over No. 8 St. Francis (10-8-6) on Saturday afternoon at Santa Clara High. Earlier in the day, Palo Alto moved on to the semifinals with a 3-0 triumph over No. 12 Leigh (12-9-1) on a rain-less morning at Milpitas High.
Those victories set up a third showdown between Gunn and Palo Alto this season. Thus far, the SCVAL De Anza Division champion Titans are 0-1-1 against their rival. Burgee, meanwhile, has yet to beat Paly in four matches during his two seasons at Gunn.
"I'm 0-3-1 against Paly," Burgee said. "My feeling is we're due."
First and foremost, Tuesday's winner advances to Friday's section championship game against either No. 3 Mitty (14-5-8) or No. 7 Hillsdale (16-2-3) at Piedmont Hills at 4:30 p.m. Mitty wasn't even the top team in the West Catholic Athletic League while Hillsdale won the weaker PAL Ocean Division crown.
In Paly's 3-0 romp over Leigh, senior Manny Barragan scored in the first minute off an assist from Pierre Meloty-Kapella. Barragan scored again in the 28th minute with Ben Flamm assisting. Peter Lenke wrapped things up in the second half off an assist from Cameron Taylor.
Taylor, Flamm, Alex Jugant, Patrick Alonis and David White were among the defensive standouts.
In Gunn's 2-0 hard-fought win over St. Francis, the Titans came back from a sloppy first half during which the Lancers dominated. The Titans' fitness showed after intermission as they turned up their offense. Guzinski scored off a free kick in the 58th minute and Ian Barnett converted a corner kick by Ryan McDermott shortly thereafter.
"We were having a tough time with them in the first half," Burgee said of the Lancers. "They kept pace in the first half."
Once Guzinski scored, however, "it gave us a huge energy boost," Burgee said.
Burgee noted that Menlo School had scored three goals against St. Francis in deadball situations earlier in the week during the Lancers' penalty-kick win over the Knights. So, the Titans practiced converting deadball plays in practice.
"It paid off," Burgee said, as did the Titans' fitness.
Guzinski, meanwhile, praised his team's defense for keeping the Titans in the match in the first half. Along with Weinstein, other solid efforts came from Max Zipperstein, Doug Simpson, Avery Naar, Vinny Beltrami and senior midfielder Anton Horwath.
Second-seeded Palo Alto (13-3-6) missed reaching the section finals for a fourth straight season, falling to No. 7 Notre Dame-Belmont, 1-0, on Saturday in a Division II quarterfinal at Burlingame High.
"A disappointing end to the season," said Paly coach Jeff van Gastel. "But more expected this year than the last two years. Once Austinn (Freeman) and Lindsey (Stirrat) were out for the season (due to knee injuries), our options were limited for who played up front and where our goals were going to come from.
"However, the girls played hard the entire season and could have folded after Austinn and Lindsey went down, but they grinded out victories for our third league title in a row."
Making Saturday's loss even worse were the miserable conditions. It rained the entire match, leaving standing water on the artificial turf field. Paly's ability to use its speed and passing game was negated.
With 15 seconds left in the match, Paly had one final shot with a corner kick. The Vikings had every player, including goalie Christy Gauthier, in the penalty box in hopes of making something happen.
"However," van Gastel said, "we hit it out of bounds, which just about sums up our offense for the whole second half of the season."
Along with those two seniors, Saturday's loss marked the final prep match for fellow seniors Tessa Buchin, Natalie Ferraiolo, Arianna Gianola, Lisa Johnson, Rachel Nordman, Leanna Racine and Annie Ryan.
E-mail a friend a link to this story.