Arredondo brothers now face a coaching rivalry
It was perhaps fitting when Ramiro and Henry Arredondo took over the Priory girls' soccer program two years ago. The brothers both were Priory alums and Ramiro had an honored spot in the school's athletic Hall of Fame as a standout soccer player in 1997.
Ramiro, the older of the two, assumed the duties of head coach while Henry dutifully became the associate head coach when Sacred Heart Prep grad Armando Del Rio left Priory and returned to Atherton to take over the SHP boys' team.
The Arredondo brothers kept a winning tradition alive by posting a 25-10-6 record over their first two seasons, which included berths in the Central Coast Section Division III playoffs.
Year 3 of the Arredondo coaching regime is under way and the brothers were back on the Priory pitch Monday for an important West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) match with Sacred Heart Prep.
One thing was different, however. While the brothers were on the same side of the field, they were not standing side by side. They were not talking to the Priory players together nor rooting them on in tandem.
For the first time in their high school coaching careers, the two were facing each other.
Ramiro is the new head coach at Sacred Heart Prep while Henry is the head man at Priory.
"It was indeed the first time Henry and I have faced each other in a high school soccer match," said Ramiro. "We've coached against each other in club soccer, but high school soccer has a bit more strategy and emotional shifts."
Added Henry: "Both Ramiro and I coach club soccer year around and have coached against each other in the past (on the club level). I always want his club teams to do well."
Monday, however, was a different story.
"Today will be fun," Henry said before the match, "because it's the first time our schools meet with us on opposite sides. Today is the first day that I will be rooting against him."
Perhaps fittingly, the teams battled to a 1-1 deadlock.
"The game was intense from the beginning and Priory got a good break early on," said Ramiro. "I still think we had control of possession on their half of the field and they were looking to counter-attack us with their fast break. They have two explosive players in Mariana Galvan and Caitlyn Teoman, so we had to play extra-cautious in the back."
Galvan set up Priory's goal with less than 28 minutes left in the first half, sending a cross to Sarah Zuckerman that she finished. Sacred Heart Prep equalized in the 72nd minute on a goal by senior Kendall Jager.
"I think being so early in the season, we were trying to figure out what each of us would do to counter the others' strategic move," explained Ramiro. "I think once we go back to SHP (Priory visits on January 31), there will be a bit more on the line. We can already see that Menlo, Priory, King's and us are starting to separate in the standings, so the second round in league is always important."
By that time, the brothers probably will be used to coaching apart. Right now, it's something they're still dealing with.
"Of course it was tough leaving Priory. That's my alma mater," Ramiro said. "I enjoyed coaching the girls at Priory and it will always hold a special place for me. Once the opportunity presented itself at Sacred Heart, I knew I could not pass it up. SHP has such a strong tradition in not only athletics but, more importantly, academics. I enjoy working with the SHP Athletic Department and fully respect the professionalism and support they show all their staff."
Henry agreed it was tough to see his brother leave.
"I would rather work together than against, but a little competition is always good between siblings," Henry acknowledged. "He's my older brother and I always want the best for him. SHP is a great school with a strong girls' soccer program and now they have one of the top club coaches in the area."
The brothers both coach for the Alpine Strikers. Ramiro has a U15 boys and a U12 girls team while Henry coaches older players in addition to the Redwood City Juventus Firebirds, a girls' U18 squad that includes both Priory and SHP players.
Thus, there were a lot of familiar faces at Priory on Monday.
The match came down to a tale of two halves. The Panthers (1-0-2, 2-2-4) did a good job controlling the first half. They took advantage of an injury to SHP junior keeper Blair Hamilton, who collided with Zuckerman while making a saving tackle. Hamilton suffered a slight neck injury that forced her to leave the game. Priory scored moments later against SHP backup Mamie Caruso, who was facing into bright sunlight on Zuckerman's goal.
"Blair is doing well," Ramiro said. "She had a bit of whiplash on the goal-saving tackle. She is a strong player and was able to come back in the second half."
With the sun dipping and temperatures dropping in the second half, Sacred Heart Prep finally got on the board so neither Arredondo brother could earn bragging rights.
"I know our girls were disappointed that we could not finish our shots in the second half," Ramiro said. "We are still getting into rhythm with our front line. Our timing is just a bit off, but I am sure once we get them comfortable together we will create more problems for opposing teams' defenses."
That was the case Tuesday as the Gators (3-0-1, 7-1-2) bounced back from Monday's tie to defeat visiting Crystal Springs, 2-0. SHP got on the board in the 18th minute when Jager assisted on a goal by Alex Bourdillon. In the 65th minute, Jager wrapped things up with an unassisted goal.
Also Tuesday, Menlo School defeated host King's Academy, 2-1, to remain unbeaten in WBAL Foothill Division. Both teams had multiple scoring opportunities as the momentum swung back and forth. Menlo junior Sienna Stritter scored a goal in each half to spark the Knights (3-0, 5-2-4) to their victory.
In San Jose, Castilleja and host Notre Dame-San Jose played to a 3-3 deadlock.
In Los Altos Hills, Pinewood got a second-half goal from freshman Amrita Mecker off an assist from freshman Kelly Branson as the Panthers earned a 1-1 deadlock with Mercy-Burlingame in WBAL Skyline Division action. Pinewood (5-0-1, 6-3-2) and Mercy (3-0-1) are mathematically tied for the division lead.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division on Wednesday, Palo Alto continued its offensive fireworks with a 6-1 victory over visiting Milpitas. The Vikings (4-0-1, 5-4-2) won their fourth straight and now have 20 goals in their past three matches. Nina Kelty scored twice for Paly.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn remained winless in league action following a 1-0 loss to visiting Los Altos on Wednesday night. The Titans fell to 0-5 in the division (1-7-2 overall) while the Eagles improved to 4-0-1 in league (6-1-2 overall).
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton moved back into the thick of the league race with a 3-1 victory over visiting Terra Nova on Wednesday. The Bears (2-2, 4-3-3) got two goals from senior Elizabeth Cruz and one from freshman Talia Missan.
Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep remained tied for first place in the WBAL with victories on Wednesday.
In Los Altos Hills, Menlo (4-0, 7-2-1) handed host Pinewood a 3-0 defeat. Ryan Karle, Max Parker and Jordan Vasquez tallied goals for the Knights.
In Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep (4-0, 7-2-1) found itself in a battle with visiting Eastside Prep, but finally broke through in the 72nd minute on a goal by Andrew Segre off an assist from Nick Salzman to post a 1-0 victory.
Elsewhere in the WBAL, host Priory (0-3-1 league) played to a 2-2 deadlock with King's Academy (1-2-1).
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Elyas Daadi scored in the 18th minute off an assist from Stefan Jensen and goalie Boot Bullwinkle made it stand up with his third shutout in five division matches as Gunn posted a 1-0 victory over host Los Altos. The Titans improved to 2-2-1 in league (4-6-2 overall).
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Palo Alto battled back from a 1-0 first-half deficit with a goal by Chris Meredith in the second half, off an assist from Cina Vazir, as the Vikings settled for a 1-1 deadlock with host Milpitas.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton and Burlingame played to a scoreless deadlock on Tuesday on the Bears' field.