A third straight title in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) will be on the line when first-place Sacred Heart Prep visits second-place Priory on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
Only five points separate the Gators (7-0-1, 11-4-3) and the Panthers (5-1-2, 10-3-4) following victories by both teams on Tuesday. Should Sacred Heart win, the Gators will have 25 points with one match remaining and no chance of anyone catching them.
Should Priory win, the Gators will be forced to clinch the title against visiting Menlo next Tuesday on the final day of the regular season -- but without standout senior Abby Dahlkemper, who will be away at a U-20 national team training camp.
SHP coach Jake Moffat already has stressed that he wants to wrap things up before Dahlkemper leaves. That means the Gators must beat Priory on Thursday.
Sacred Heart tuned up for that showdown with a 6-0 drubbing of visiting King's Academy on Tuesday. Dahlkemper and fellow senior Gena Graumann both scored twice with Graumann adding two assists. Next season, the two will be on opposite sides of the field with Graumann headed to USC and Dahlkemper to UCLA.
Priory kept its hopes alive for a possible title by holding off Castilleja, 4-3, on Tuesday at the Mayfield Soccer Complex. The Panthers got the winning goal in the second half when sophomore Mariana Galvan took a pass from Darrah Shields and finished in the 51st minute.
Shields scored in the eighth minute off an assist from Galvan, who last week was at a U-18 national team training camp in Florida. In the 14th minute, dribbled past four defenders and pushed a shot under the Castilleja keeper for a 2-0 lead. The Gators battled back with a pair of goals before Priory's Eugenia Jernick scored in the 32nd minute off a perfectly lofted pass from Shields, who now has nine assists on the season.
Backup keeper Stephanie Brugger held on for the victory and recorded eight saves in place of starter Liz Oliphant, who suffered an injury against King's Academy on Jan. 27, but is expected to be in goal Thursday against Sacred Heart Prep.
Third-place Menlo School (4-0-4, 5-3-8) remained mathematically alive to tie for the division title with a 4-0 victory over visiting Mercy-Burlingame. The Knights need SHP to go 0-2 in its final two matches and Priory to go 1-1 or 1-0-1 to finish in a tie with the Gators, both with 22 points.
Senior captain Kelly Cavan scored one goal and assisted on three others for the Knights. Elle Laub scored in the fifth minute from close range off a Cavan assist. Sienna Stritter then scored off a feed from Cavan. In the second half, Cavan connected from 25 yards out, unassisted. Stritter scored her second goal off Cavan's third assist.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, Pinewood (4-4, 9-8-1) dropped a 3-0 decision to host Notre Dame-San Jose and Eastside Prep edged Harker, 1-0.
In the PAL Bay Division, visiting Menlo-Atherton pulled a 1-0 upset over Carlmont. The Bears improved to 4-6-1 in league (9-6-2 overall) wile the Scots fell to 5-5-1 with three matches remaining.
Eastside Prep and Pinewood remained deadlocked for first place in the WBAL Foothill Division following lopsided victories on Tuesday.
In Atherton, Eastside Prep (8-1, 17-6) romped to a 61-31 victory over Sacred Heart Prep (1-8, 10-9) while Pinewood (8-1, 17-5) drubbed visiting Menlo School, 83-56, in Los Altos Hills.
Menlo (5-4, 15-8) actually held a 35-31 halftime lead, but the odds finally caught up with the Knights, who were playing without two injured starters. Pinewood poured in 52 second-half points to win comfortably.
Senior Hailie Eackles led the Panthers with 31 points while Angelina Mapa added 15 and Caitlin Ciardella finished with 12: Pinewood made 14 three-pointers. Drew Edelman led Menlo with 21 points and 16 rebounds while senior Emma Paye, who has missed most of the season with an injury, added 11 points.
Eastside Prep, meanwhile, got 20 points and 12 rebounds from 6-foot sophomore Hashima Carothers while seniors Ahjalee Harvey and Ausjerae Holland added 18 and 10 points, respectively, as the Panthers raced to a 34-18 halftime lead before holding the Gators to just 13 second-half points. Melissa Holland scored 10 points to lead SHP.
Elsewhere in the WBAL, Castilleja was five minutes away from pulling off the greatest comeback in school history, but a 15-0 run by host Mercy-San Francisco ruined that as the Gators dropped a 45-37 decision on Tuesday night.
Castilleja trailed by 27-11 in the third quarter before going on an 18-0 run to take a two-point lead behind two treys by Olivia Nicholls, who finished with 10 points. After Mercy retook the lead, Castilleja went on an 8-0 lead to move in front, 37-30 with five minutes remaining. That's when Mercy went on its final run to wrap things up despite a 52-24 edge in rebounding by the Gators (1-8, 11-12), which got a career-high 22 boards from von Kaeppler, one off the school record held by her sister, Ericka.
In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton (4-5, 8-15) led the entire game on the way to a 63-46 victory over last-place Aragon. Anna Crookston Herschlag led the Bears with 22 points while Sela Tupou added 14. Tennyson Jellins and freshman Emma Heath each contributed 11 points for the Bears, who need to beat first-place Terra Nova on Friday in Pacifica to finish with a .500 league record, and thus qualify for the CCS playoffs.