By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
Three important soccer races are coming to a close and three matches this week will go a long way in deciding those division championships.
In the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division), the Sacred Heart Prep girls can wrap things up this week with a pair of victories. The first-place Gators (6-0-1) have 19 points and hold a five-point lead over second-place Priory (4-1-2).
Sacred Heart Prep hosts King's Academy on Tuesday (2:45 p.m.) before welcoming Priory on Thursday (3:30 p.m.) Two victories will give the Gators 25 points with one match remaining and Priory will have 17 points with a match left.
Menlo School (3-0-4) is mathematically alive, but needs both SHP and Priory to lose to have any chance of overhauling both.
In the WBAL boys' race, first-place Sacred Heart Prep (9-0-1) has 28 points and a four-point lead over second-place Priory (8-2) with four matches remaining. While the Gators already have beaten the Panthers twice this season, they still can't wrap up the title this week unless Priory falters.
If the teams win out as expected, Sacred Heart Prep would have to wait until its match on Feb. 16 at King's Academy to clinch. The Gators next play host to Menlo (5-4-1) on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in a crucial match for both teams.
Priory kept pace with a 9-1 win over host Pinewood on Monday. Guillermo Talancon and Evan Filipczyk each contributed three goals and three assists in the easy win. Sophomore Cesar Perez scored a brilliant right-footed side volley off a great cross by John Kim, to kick things off in the second half. Priory plays visiting King's Academy (6-1-3 for 21 points) on Wednesday (2:30 p.m.) with second place at stake.
In the PAL Bay Division, the Menlo-Atherton boys are having one of their finest seasons in years (8-1-1, 10-2-2) and are in the running for the division title. The Bears will visit co-leader Burlingame (8-1-1) on Wednesday at 4 p.m., with M-A needing a victory to take over sole possession of first place. The Bears also have a huge match against visiting Terra Nova on Friday (3 p.m.), the only team to beat the Bears in division play.
Burlingame suffered a tie against Sequoia last Friday, a match that M-A coach Jacob Pickard got to see.
"I actually left M-A's game early to catch it," said Pickard, whose team was in the process of beating Aragon, 5-1. "I figured if anyone else, other than us, could take points off of Burlingame, it'd be Sequoia since they struggled against them the last time they played.
"The draw makes a considerable difference from the standpoint that Burlingame has to chase the result now, not us. If Burlingame had won on Friday, they'd have taken a two-point lead (into (Wednesday's match), meaning that a draw in the game would be almost as good as a win for them. But now that we're tied on points, we have the advantage since we beat them the other time we played. If we draw, we'd take the first seed into CCS, even if we're tied on points at the end of the season. So, now it's on them to come out to try and beat us."
In girls' soccer action on Monday, it was scheduled as a home match, but there was no home field advantage for Palo Alto as it dropped a 2-0 decision to Mountain View in SCVAL De Anza Division action on the Spartans' field on Monday.
The match originally was rescheduled for Paly after it first was cancelled when the host Vikings failed to have referees show up. The Spartans asked for the match to be replayed on their field so not to have to make a second trip to Palo Alto.
The way the season has been going for both teams, it probably didn't matter where the match was played. Mountain View (7-1-2, 13-2-3) is closing in on first place while Palo Alto (2-5-2, 5-9-2) is close to missing out on the postseason for the first time since 2000 when the Vikings went 12-8-2 and missed the CCS playoffs.
On Monday, Paly gave up back-to-back goals within a three-minute span in the first half. The Vikings battled back after intermission and actually out-shot the Spartans, but couldn't find the net.