The Menlo-Atherton girls began the day contending for a PAL Bay Division soccer title. As the sun was going down, however, so were the Bears' hopes as first-place Woodside pulled away for a 4-1 victory on Tuesday.
The Bears came into the first of two showdowns with the Wildcats tied for third place with Burlingame, trailing second-place Carlmont by just two points. M-A needed to pull an upset, however, to move closer to Woodside's 18 points.
That didn't happen, however, as the Bears fell to 3-2-2 (6-3-3) while the Wildcats improved to 7-0 and 11-1. Woodside continues to lead the PAL Bay Division with 21 points with Carlmont in second with 16 and Burlingame third with 14. Menlo-Atherton, which is now just fighting for a Central Coast Section playoff berth, is fourth with 11 points heading into Thursday's showdown at Burlingame.
For the first 34 minutes of Tuesday's match in Atherton, Woodside and M-A battled with possession split fairly evenly. The Bears had a few early chances, but could not capitalize. Then, it was the Wildcats who seized control in the 34th minute when junior Vanessa Mora came running in to meet a corner kick with a very strong shot from the left side of the goal to put Woodside up 1-0.
Just one minute later, Woodside star forward Jillienne Aguilera split two defenders and quickly scored another goal to put Woodside up 2-0 at the half. It was the first of three goals for the PAL scoring leader, who has 20 goals in league play.
In the second half, the Bears fought hard and managed to get off six shots, including two great chances when senior Carolyn Hunt-Gonzalez hit one over the top from just in front of the goal in the 48th minute and another when a free kick from senior Taryn Harpell hit the crossbar in the 58th minute.
In the end, the speed and finishing ability of Woodside's Aguilera was too much to overcome. Aguilera scored her second goal of the match in the 55th minute to put Woodside up 3-0.
Minutes later, senior Annie Harrier of Menlo-Atherton was fouled from behind in the box, setting up a penalty kick. Harpell took the kick and calmly placed the ball in the left corner of the net and caught Woodside sophomore keeper Sarah Preston diving to the opposite side to make it 3-1.
Aguilera netted her third goal of the game just before the final whistle when an M-A defender fell and she was able to capitalize.
In the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division), freshman Mia Shenk scored two goals and added an assist as Sacred Heart Prep rolled to a 6-0 victory over visiting Notre Dame-San Jose and remained alone in first place.
The Gators moved to 5-0 in league (11-2-1 overall) as junior Tierna Davidson contributed one goal and two assists. Lexi Lamb, Brigid White and Olivia Athens also scored for SHP.
In Atherton, host Menlo School remained a game back in the standings following a 9-0 rout of Priory. Menlo senior Leah Swig had a hat trick while teammate Alexandra Walker finished with two goals and one assist as the Knights improved to 4-1 in league (7-3-3- overall). Priory dropped to 0-5 and 0-9-1.
Swig got Menlo's first goal in the 13th minute from 10 yards out off an assist from Lizzie Lacy. Zoe Enright pushed the lead to 2-0 at the half on a 18-yard shot off an assist from Walker in the 19th minute. Swig scored in the first minute of the second half on a follow up of an Enright shot that hit the crossbar. A minute later, Walker dribbled through and connected from 10 yards out.
Swig finished her hat trick on a 12-yard shot off an assist from Katie Keller at 12 minutes. Walker then scored from 20 yards on an Enright assist. Elena Gray scored off an assist from Mikayla Stabile, Cleo King scored unassisted, and Kaitlin Baldwin scored off an assist from Sasha Cassidy.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, Pinewood rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to beat visiting Eastside Prep, 3-1. Jordan Berke, Emma Doettling and Laine Corfield all scored for Pinewood (4-1-1, 7-5-2) following assists from Caleigh Page while Eastside Prep fell to 0-5 in league.
In Hillsborough, Castilleja grabbed a 1-0 halftime lead following a goal by Julia Lodoen off a corner kick by Ella Nudell, but the Gators could not make it stand up and eventually had to settle for a 1-1 deadlock with host Crystal Springs. The Gators moved to 4-0-2 in league (7-3-3 overall) and held on to first place ahead of Crystal Springs (4-0-1, 9-4-1).
Pinewood remained atop the WBAL Foothill Division standings following a 72-38 romp over host Castilleja. The Panthers (6-0, 14-2) won their eighth straight as 10 players scored. Freshman Stella Kailahi led the way with 12 points with seniors Gabi Bade and Nia Craig adding 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Ellie chen had 16 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals while Paige Vermeer finished with 13 for the Gators (1-4, 9-8).
In San Jose, Riley Hemm tossed in 18 points and Sacred Heart Prep held on to a 45-44 victory over host Notre Dame-San Jose. The Gators (2-4, 11-7) fell behind by 32-21 at the half, but held the Regents to just 12 points after intermission. Ma'ata Makoni added 10 points for SHP with Natalie Zimits finishing with eight.
The Eastside Prep at Mercy-San Francisco game was not reported.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, freshman Tatiana Reese returned after missing two games with an injury and produced 31 points and eight rebounds to pace Priory to a 46-25 win over host Crystal Springs. Reese finished with five 3-pointers.