Castilleja got a goal from junior Julia Lodoen in the first half and held on to post a 1-0 victory over Pinewood in West Bay Athletic League (Skyline Division) girls' soccer action at Cubberley Community Center.
The Gators held on to first place at 5-0-2 (8-3-3 overall) with the crucial victory. Pinewood fell to third at 4-1-1 (7-6-2).
After having some near-misses in the first half, the Gators broke through when senior Victoria Pu lofted a shot to the awaiting Lodoen, who knocked it into the top half of the cage in the 36th minute.
Pu had a shot on goal in the first half, as did junior Anais Sarrazin. Lodoen actually was taken down in the penalty box, but no call was made. The Gators kept peppering the Pinewood goal as Clare Maloney-McCrystle had a shot on goal off a free kick in the 16th minute, and Natalie Sands had a shot that was deflected and followed by another shot by Sam Jensen in the 18th minute.
Castilleja had eight more shots on goal in the second half, coming close to scoring when Maloney-McCrystle had a free kick that Sarah Abramowitz controlled, before firing a shot that was cleared off the line in the 63rd minute.
In the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division), sophomore Olivia Athens scored four goals and Sacred Heart Prep remained in sole possession of first place with a 5-1 win over host Priory in Portola Valley.
Athens scored twice in the first half to secure the triumph as the Gators improved to 6-0 and 12-2-1. In the second half, Athen scored twice more, this time with assists from junior Tierna Davidson in the 57th and 80th minutes. Davidson also assisted on a goal in the 79th minute by senior Nicola Wheeler.
In Atherton, Menlo School rallied from a one-goal deficit in the first half to defeat visiting Harker, 3-1. The Knights improved to 5-1 in league (8-3-3 overall) and remained a game behind Sacred Heart Prep.
Harker got the first half's only goal on a 20-yard shot from Joelle Anderson. Menlo keeper Schuyler Tilney-Volk came up with a great save on a 1 on 1 early in the second half with Menlo still down, 1-0. This was a huge moment in the game as just minutes later Menlo got the equalizing goal.
Menlo's Leah Swig's hard work was rewarded with an accurate shot from 12 yards out eight minutes into the second half on an assist from hustling Cleo King. Alexandra Walker's shot from 25 yards out gave Menlo the lead in the 25th minute.
Finally, it was Swig crossing the ball accurately to Walker, whose extra effort in the box enabled her to connect from close range at the 30-minute mark to secure the victory for Menlo. Tess Batchelder in particular stood out for the strong Menlo defense. Menlo dominated the second half and outshot Harker 19-6.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto remained tied for first place following a 3-1 win over visiting Los Altos. The Vikings improved to 6-1 in league (12-1 overall) and now have outscored opponents by 44-5 this season.
Paly's first goal came in the 28th minute when Alison Lu met Priscilla Bell's corner kick over the keeper at the back post and scored. In the 50th minute off a free kick just outside the penalty area, Aoi Sugihara sent a well-struck ball into the box that Jacey Pederson met with a diving header, redirecting the ball on frame just inside the far post for a 2-0 Paly lead.
Two minutes later, Bell picked up a mis-hit clearance, drove forward into space and shot from 25 yards out. The ball came down just under the crossbar and it was just touched by the Los Altos keeper, who at full stretch deflected the ball onto the inside of the far post and the ball bounced in for a 3-0 Paly advantage. A minute later Los Altos scored, as Rebecca Andrews connected from 30 yards out into the upper left corner of the go
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn stayed in the running for a possible league title following a 1-0 victory over visiting Lynbrook on Thursday night. The Titans moved to 5-2 in league (7-4-1 overall) following a goal by Lucy Augustine in the first half. Inger Smuts provided the assist.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton suffered its second loss of the week, falling to host and second-place Burlingame by 2-1. Forward Gaby Walker got Burlingame on the board in the 16th minute when she received a cross from the right side and placed a hard shot into the left corner of the net. Just five minutes later, Walker had her second goal of the afternoon when a chip in from the middle allowed her to split two defenders and finish with a high shot to the upper right side of the net to put the Panthers up 2-0 in the 21st minute.
The Bears (3-3-2, 6-4-3) fought to get back into the game and picked up the intensity after those early two goals. M-A junior Julia Moreton scored for the Bears in the 24th minute when she was able to take advantage of a deflection when a Panthers' defender mis-cleared the ball. Burlingame forced M-A senior goalkeeper Jacqueline Foody to make four saves in the first half though the final shot tally in the half was fairly even at 7-6 in favor of the Panthers.
Palo Alto opened the second half of the SCVAL De Anza Division race as it did the first, with a 1-0 victory over Los Altos on Thursday on the Eagles' field.
The Vikings improved to 7-0 in league (11-1-2 overall) and stretched their win streak to 10 straight. Paly also has yet to allow a goal in division play this season. The Vikings are ranked No. 6 in the state and No. 24 in the nation by MaxPreps.com.
Paly opened a two-game lead over second-place Homestead (6-2), which dropped a 1-0 decision to Santa Clara.
Paly and Los Altos both came out carefully with the Vikings having only four chances to score in the first half and Los Altos having no shots on goal. The defensive battle continued into the second half. Paly's offense finally opened up 13 minutes into the second half when senior Preston Kuppe hit a direct kick from 35 yards out that was headed into the upper left corner by junior Dami Bolarinwa.
Bolarinwa had a few more chances that included another direct kick from Kuppe. He made a remarkable chest trap/volley that was barely covered up by Los Altos keeper Chris Lytle. Paly keep Eli Friedlander had two nice saves in the second half while teaming with fellow junior Alex Bomoni for the team's eighth straight shutout. The defensive play of Steven Blatman, Kuppe, Declan Cassini and Reuben Kramer was solid once again to preserve the victory.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, senior Alex Ruber scored three times to pace Gunn to a 4-0 victory over host Lynbrook. Ruber's goals came on assists from Cristobal Gonzalez, Guy Kaznik and Kevin Xi. Senior Sean MacPherson provided the first, and eventual game-winning, goal in the first half with an assist from Joffy Fryett as the Titans improved to 6-0-1 in league (9-4-2 overall).