Sports

Menlo can't end SHP streak as rivals tie in WBAL soccer

 

The Menlo School boys had a shot at beating rival Sacred Heart Prep for the first time in 14 matches, but it didn't happen.

The Sacred Heart Prep boys had a shot at extending their lead over the Knights in the West Bay Athletic League soccer race, but it didn't happen.

What did happen Friday in the second showdown between the neighborhood rivals was a 2-2 tie after 80 minutes that likely left both teams frustrated, elated and perhaps disappointed.

Menlo grabbed a 1-0 halftime lead, only to lose it when the Gators rallied for a 2-1 lead. With victory within its grasp, SHP let it slip away. Three goals came on penalty kicks while more penalties were called than you could shake a yellow card at.

The result? Sacred Heart Prep remained alone atop the WBAL standings at 6-0-1 (10-1-3) while Menlo remained alone in second at 5-1-1 (7-4-2).

The Gators, meanwhile, improved their unbeaten streak over the Knights to 11-0-3 since the teams began playing each other in the WBAL in 2009. SHP also extended its current unbeaten streak to nine matches (7-0-2) with the tie.

"Leaving with a tie didn't close any gap," said Gators head coach Armando Del Rio. "We're still three points ahead of them and I think that's a good place. We always want to win but, leaving here with a tie is fine with us."

"We don't worry about those records," said Menlo head coach Marc Kerrest. "It's just the two teams on the day. They played really well today and we gave them a good battle. Sure, I would've loved to find a winner, but I think a draw is a fair result."

Menlo's one point for the tie is the first point given up by the Gators this league season.

Menlo junior Will Chisholm scored on two penalty kicks, but it still wasn't enough for the win. With six minutes left in the second half, Chisholm nailed a penalty kick that went just to the right of Gators goalie Zach Haire to deadlock the match at 2 and end the back-and-forth battle.

Midway through the first half, Haire got a yellow card for pushing Menlo freshman Dylan Williams while trying to get to the ball. Chisholm was in for the penalty kick and booted it past SHP backup goalie Alex Szeptycki for the 1-0 advantage going into halftime.

Sacred Heart began the second half with a Menlo yellow card on a hand ball and senior Derek Chou converted the penalty kick to tie the match.

"To be honest, the first game we played with them there was nothing called," said Del Rio. "This game was very tightly called to keep it under control. That made for no rhythm for both teams, so it was kind of like a game of free kicks."

The Gators went up midway through the second half on a shot by Danny Sanchez after a throw-in by Connor Johnston to give Sacred Heart a 2-1 lead.

The Gators committed a huge penalty with six minutes left in the game when Haire charged out of goal to challenge Menlo's Williams. The two collided and Haire was called for the infraction. Chisholm converted the PK for the tie.

"The defense played well," Kerrest said. "Adler in goal, Kian Seddighnezhad, (Michael) Quezada, (Matt) Joss, William Bleicher. Alistair Shaw played back there for a little bit. It was strong performance throughout our lineup."

The Knights will visit Harker (3-3) on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Sacred Heart will host Eastside Prep the same afternoon at 3:30 p.m. The Gators likely will be without standout Riley Tinsley the remainder of the season. He suffered a leg injury last week in a win at Crystal Springs and was on crutches Friday.

Menlo, meanwhile, needs to keep winning and hope someone can upset SHP to climb into a tie for the league lead.

"We just have to go out and win our games," said Kerrest. "We've got a tough league you can't take anyone for granted. If we go win our games you never know what happens to them and maybe we can get back in front."

In the PAL Bay Division, Kyle Smith scored two goals and added one assist as Menlo-Atherton solidified its second-place position with a 4-1 victory over visiting Carlmont on Friday. The Bears improved to 6-2 in league (9-3 overall) and are just one point behind first-place Burlingame (6-1-1).

Jesus Ortega assisted on Smith's goals before Smith provided an assist on a goal by Ortega. Alex Gallo provided the fourth goal. Menlo-Atherton will host Burlingame on Feb. 16 at 4 p.m., likely to decide the league title.

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