By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
The Menlo-Atherton boys' soccer team lost a golden opportunity to control its own destiny in the PAL Bay Division race.
Coach Jacob Pickard was less then pleased by how his team responded to the challenge and looks to get back on track with three matches remaining.
"At this point, our CCS seeding doesn't matter," Pickard said after the Bears dropped a 2-1 decision to host Burlingame on Wednesday. "Our hope was to win the league, get a high seed and a first-round bye. That's not going to happen."
M-A (8-2-1, 10-3-2) handled the Panthers the last time around but a bad-luck loss to Terra Nova cost the Bears the chance to open an edge on the rest of the league. M-A plays host to the Tigers at 3 p.m. Friday.
"I'm deeply disappointed with our effort," Pickard said. "Everything Burlingame did, pressuring us in the middle, getting an early goal, we practiced against. We lacked communication."
The Panthers (9-1-1, 13-2-4) scored an unassisted goal in the first five minutes on an apparent miscommunication between a defender and goalkeeper Jonathan Friedman, who was calling for the ball but appeared to hesitate slightly.
No one was guarding the net when Burlingame's Andy Gonzalez chipped the ball over everyone's heads. All anyone could do was watching helplessly as the ball dribbled across the line and to the back of the net in the lower left corner.
"We did not play well for 60 minutes," Pickard said. "No offense to Burlingame because they played well but I sincerely feel we handed them the game."
Edgardo Molina scored M-A's only goal, with 20 minutes remaining. The scoring play rejuvenated the Bears and they went back on the attack in an attempt to tie the game.
Daniel Gil created a scoring opportunity in the final five minutes, which ended when William Cabral's header was scooped up by the Burlingame goalie.
Cedric Brossard started the Bears' scoring play when he won the ball and sent an outlet pass to Thomas Kaheli, who found the open Molina.
In the West Bay Athletic League:
Getting a little unexpected help, the Sacred Heart Prep boys' soccer team moved to within one victory of clinching the league title with a 4-1 triumph over visiting Menlo School on Wednesday. The Gators (10-0-1, 15-0-1) now have 31 points and need only to beat visiting Eastside Prep on Friday (3:30 p.m.) to wrap up the division crown.
Second-place Priory (8-3) was upset by King's Academy (7-1-3) on Tuesday, 2-1, and both those teams are tied for second with 24 points with three matching remaining. The best they can do is finish with 33 points. One more win for the Gators will give them 34 points.
Sophomore Joseph Bolous scored two goals to pace the win over Menlo, which mirrored the teams' first meeting, also a 4-1 win by SHP. Marcelino Perez and Robert Ojeda added the other goals, with Ojeda providing an assist.
"I felt like we deserved a lot more goals, but the (Menlo) goalkeeper made good saves," said SHP coach Armando Del Rio. "Overall, we played pretty well at home. However, we were disappointed to give up a soft goal at the end of the game. My goal right now is to keep the team sharp, disciplined, focused for what is to come in CCS. Although, we still have not guaranteed our spot."
In Portola Valley, Priory (8-3, 9-5-4) lost a chance to delay SHP's possible title celebration by falling to King's Academy (7-1-3). Priory coach Paul Moran said his team came out flat in the first half and fell behind 1-0 in the first 10 minutes.
Evan Filipczyk provided the assist on Austin Mirabella's tying goal in the second half, but King's picked up their tempo and scored the winning goal midway through the second half.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto remained in fourth place and in danger of missing the Central Coast Section playoffs following a 0-0 deadlock with Los Gatos (1-4-5) on Wednesday.
The Vikings (3-0-7, 7-2-8) missed an opportunity to move into third place, where Paly needs to finish in order to gain an automatic berth into the CCS playoffs. Mountain View continues to lead with 26 points with Saratoga second (20 points) and Los Altos third with 17. Paly has 16 with tough matches remaining at Los Altos (Friday) and at home against Mountain View (Wednesday).
Palo Alto has to beat Los Altos and get no worse than a draw with Mountain View to tie LA for third place. If Saratoga loses its last match, there could be a three-way tie for second between Los Altos, Paly and the Falcons -- all with 20 points.
Against Los Gatos, Paly continued its offensive woes. In the past two years, the teams have played 320 minutes (four games) and have scored only once goal apiece. Last season, neither team scored in the two matches played.
While their offense faltered, the Vikings' defense of junior Gerritt van Zyll, senior Austin Smith plus sophomores Peter Laminette and Grant Shorin kept Los Gatos scoring threats to a minimum. Paly keeper Austin Shiau needed only one save in the match.
Menlo-Atherton had nothing to celebrate on Senior Night as the host Bears dropped a 53-38 decision to last-place Aragon in PAL Bay Division action on Wednesday. The Dons (2-7, 7-16) blew the game open in the final period with a 24-point explosion as the Bears fell to 5-4 (12-11) with only Friday's game at Woodside remaining in the regular season. Myles Brewer and Marquise Tolson paced M-A with 10 points each.
Gunn kept its hopes alive of possibly tying for the SCVAL De Anza Division title by defeating host Wilcox on Tuesday night, 41-34. The Titans (8-2, 16-4) remain in second place behind Palo Alto (9-0, 16-4), which can claim the crown outright by beating host Gunn on Friday (6:15 p.m.).
Cat Perez had 11 points for Gunn while Claire Klausner added nine.
Gunn perhaps kept its slim postseason hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over visiting Monta Vista on Wednesday evening. The Titans improved to 3-5-3 in league (8-6-5 overall) with their second straight victory, only the third time this season that Gunn has won back-to-back matches.
Sarah Robinson scored in the first half for Gunn, which got the winner from Holly McKenna following intermission.
"Our defense again played fantastic," said Gunn coach Damian Cohen, whose team shutout Paly last week, 1-0. "We are peaking at the right time."
In another De Anza Division match, Palo Alto's lackluster season continued with a 3-0 loss to host Los Gatos (6-0-4, 11-2-5). The Vikings fell to 2-6-2 in league (5-10-2) and most likely will miss the CCS playoffs for the first time since 2000.