A remarkable season by the Palo Alto 93 Blue U-18 boys' soccer team came to an end on Friday night following a 1-1 deadlock with the KCFC Rangers of Kansas City (Mo.) at the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series in Phoenix, Ariz.
Palo Alto came into the four-team, round-robin tourney with the nation's No. 1 ranking for its age division. It also held a victory over defending national champ Alpharetta (Ga.) from earlier in the season. That still wasn't enough for 93 Blue as it managed only three goals in three matches while finishing 0-1-2 while sharing the bronze medal with Kansas City.
Alpharetta and the YMS Thunder of Yardley (Pa.) will play for the national title on Sunday after playing to a 1-1 tie on Friday. Palo Alto needed to beat Kansas City and have Alpharetta beat Yardley to have a chance to play for the national crown.
Palo Alto struck first against the Rangers on a goal by Gunn grad Andrew Wohl at 47:00, just before the first half ended. Shortly before Wohl's goal, a Palo Alto shot hit the back of the netting and bounced out, but none of the referees saw the ball go into the net and play continued.
Kansas City, using a direct style of play sent long ball after long ball deep into Palo Alto territory finally drawing a foul 30 yards out. Kansas City's Grant Wilson hit a high-arching ball that carried over Palo Alto goalie Cameron McElfresh, also from Gunn, to tie the score for Kansas City at 79:00.
With both teams needing a win to have hope of advancing, the Kansas City goal ignited a furious pace. Palo Alto used three forwards and quickly moved the ball down the field with its ball-control offense and Kansas City kept counter-attacking with long balls over the top of the Palo Alto defense.
Neither side, however, could find a weakness in the other.
In the 18-U bracket, four matches ended 1-1 and two ended 2-1 in the most evenly matched age group at the tournament.
Friday's game marked the final match for the Palo Alto 93 Blue after 10 seasons as most of the players will be heading off to college in just a few weeks. In some cases, Palo Alto teammates who grew remarkably close over the past 10 years, will now be squaring off as opponents when they play for their college teams.
Delandro Leday has been named the new boys' basketball coach at Menlo School for the 2011-2012 season. Leday succeeds Kris Weems, who accepted a job with the NBA's Golden State Warriors last month.
In his third season as head coach of the Menlo boys' frosh-soph team, Leday led his team to a 17-2 overall record in 2010-2011.
"I am very passionate about the kids," Leday said. "My main focus is making sure that the kids know I want to understand them as a person first, and the basketball will come after that."
Leday played on Long Beach City College's 1994 state championship team under coach Gary Anderson. Leday's "mentor" is Anderson, who played for Lute Olson at Arizona before going on to coach LBCC for 34 years – finishing with 378 victories. Leday also played at Chico State.
Before coming to Menlo School, Leday coached for seven seasons at Irvington High, the final three years coaching varsity boys.