Versatile SHP girls
tough to deal
with in the WBAL
When the lightning struck and temporarily delayed a showdown between the Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo girls' soccer teams on Tuesday, SHP coach Jake Moffat used the divine intervention wisely.
"It gave me time to change my game plan," Moffat said of the eight-minute delay. "I wanted to pressure more up top, so I moved Lizzy (Weisman) from the midfield."
The diminutive Weisman, whose makes up in her lack of size with a fierce intensity, made quite a difference as she became more involved in the offense. Ultimately, Weisman was involved in both scoring plays as the Gators handed the Knights a 2-0 loss in an important West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) match played in conditions that ranged from sunlight to rain to thunder and lightning.
Had the match been played on grass, well, it wouldn't have been played.
Fortunately for the Gators (3-0, 9-3-1), they were able to get it in because the victory allowed them to open a gap in the division standings over Priory (2-1-1), Castilleja (2-1) and Menlo (1-1-1).
"It was really nice to beat Priory last week," Moffat said. "Having these two wins is nice. There was a target on our backs anyway."
As the defending WBAL (Foothill Division) and Central Coast Section Division III champion, Sacred Heart Prep is in everyone's gun sight this season. The Gators are also the measuring stick for their opponents, as so it should be despite the fact the team has only four seniors.
Thus, Sacred Heart has to be at its best nearly every time out. Fortunately for Moffat, he has the players to get the job done. One of those players is sophomore Stephanie Terpening, who was moved to sweeper this season after one player didn't work out and another, junior Geena Graumann, was injured playing the position.
"Stephanie has stepped in and been really spectacular," Moffat said. "She really didn't want to play there, but she has taken control of the defense."
With Terpening, seniors Carolina Moe and Christie Byrne plus juniors Lauren Espeseth and Sophie Abuel-Saud helping take the pressure off sophomore keeper Chris Sours, Moffat has been able to keep players like Graumann, Weisman, juniors Abby Dahlkemper and Nicole Quilliam plus freshman Kendall Jager on the offensive.
There was a time, only a couple of years ago when SHP played in the tough West Catholic Athletic League that Moffat had to use his best offensive players in a defensive mode. Now, he can utilize those players' talents where they belong — by putting more pressure on opposing defenses.
The result has been seven straight victories. During that time, the Gators have outscored their opponents 23-4 while registering four shutouts.
The point total grew on Tuesday. Following a brief eight-minute delay due to the inclement conditions, which included thunder, lightning and heavy rain, the teams returned to the field. The Gators didn't take long to put up a score as Weisman lofted a corner kick over the reach of Menlo freshman keeper Julia Dressel. SHP's Quilliam got a foot on it and knocked it off the crossbar. The rebound went to Jager, who headed it in with about 19:20 left to play in the half.
Sacred Heart took that lead into halftime. The teams battled fairly evenly in the second half despite the on and off rainy weather. With under 12 minutes to play, Weisman again got involved — getting a pass to Graumann, who found the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Sacred Heart's defenders all were standouts while shutting down a high-scoring Menlo offense led by Katie Baum, Nicole Fasola, Kelly Cavan and Mila Sheeline, among others.
In another important WBAL (Foothill Division) match played in often torrential conditions, Priory bounced back from its big loss to Sacred Heart Prep last Thursday to knock Castilleja out of a share for first place with a 5-0 triumph at the Mayfield Soccer Complex.
The Panthers (2-1-1, 4-5-5) perhaps drew a defining line between the league contenders and pretenders with the dominating victory over Castilleja (2-1, 5-2), leaving SHP, Menlo and Priory as the clear favorites for league honors this season.
Junior Massiel Castellanos scored two first-half goals and would have had a third, in the second half, but was called for offsides. The first goal came in the fifth minute and the second, with help from a defender who slipped on the slick artificial grass, came 30 minutes later.
With about four minutes gone in the second half, senior Lauren Allen passed to sophomore Darrah Shields, who finished for a 3-0 lead. Junior Alex Schnabel, who had been sidelined with a leg injury for a number of weeks, provided an offensive boost when she scored in the 55th minute and again in the 69th minute following a nice run through the defense by Castellanos.
"It was a physical match in tough conditions," said Priory coach Armando del Rio. "However, I was happy with our mentality and toughness. I was very pleased with our goal-scoring performance and, more importantly, our defense did not allow a shot inside the box. With continued health and a desire to improve every day, I think we will give SHP a good run for the league title, but I do recognize we have some tough matches ahead."
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto (2-2, 5-4-1) overcame the bad weather and visiting Los Altos to post a 3-0 victory on the Vikings' field.
Following a scoreless first half, Paly seniors Erika Hoglund and Kelly Jenks teamed up for what proved to be the winning goal. Hoglund broke free in the penalty box and, after passing up a shot, slid a pass to Jenks, who put the ball low and into the net in the 47th minute.
Just seven minutes later, Jenks juked a defender and fed the ball to sophomore Marina Foley, who worked herself past the goalie and a defender and finished for a 2-0 advantage. In the 75th minute, junior Gracie Marshall passed the ball to a wide-open Sophie Cain, and the senior midfielder lofted a 34-yard left-footed shot into the far back corner of the cage -- just over the reach of the keeper.
The match nearly was called off before it started due to the lightning that delayed the Sacred Heart Prep-Menlo game, which started 30 minutes earlier. The bad weather conditions nonetheless hindered both offenses as Paly outshot Los Altos by just 9-5. Paly defender Hannah Ohlson was a standout for the Vikings.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton dropped to fourth place following a 5-1 loss at first-place Woodside on Tuesday in a match played in often horrendous weather conditions. The Wildcats (5-0) scored three times in the first half and twice more in the second before the Bears (2-2-1, 6-3-2) got a goal from sophomore Jennifer Kirst in the second half to end the shutout.
Sacred Heart Prep strengthened its hold on first place in the West Bay Athletic League with a 2-0 victory over visiting Harker on Wednesday. The Gators (7-0, 9-3) grabbed the lead on a goal by Jack Odell at the 22-minute mark and added an insurance goal in the second half when Odell scored again off an assist from Alec Mishra at the 55-minute mark.
In another WBAL match, Priory defeated Crystal Springs on the road, 3-2. Evan Filipczyk scored two goals and Tommy Shields put in the game-winner for the Panthers (4-3, 4-5) in the last minute of the game, off a set piece by Filipczyk, who has scored two goals in each of the past three games -- all victories.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton and Carlmont were scheduled to play Wednesday. No results were reported.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto came up with its worst defensive effort in quite a few years with a 4-0 loss to host Los Altos on a rainy, stormy Tuesday afternoon. The Vikings fell to 2-1-1 in league (5-3-4 overall) while the Eagles moved to 2-2 in league (6-4 overall).