The Palo Alto boys and girls will face off against their respective Homestead foes on Thursday in SCVAL De Anza Division soccer action. That's where the similarity ends.
The boys will visit the Mustangs with a chance to claim the outright division championship, while the girls will host and, most likely, be playing for second place. Both begin at 3:30 p.m.
Both teams' championship hopes went in different direction on Tuesday as the Paly boys defeated visiting Mountain View, 3-0, while the Paly girls lost on the road, 2-1.
The boys improved to 8-1-1 in league and 12-2-3 overall and have 25 points. Homestead, a 4-2 winner over Los Gatos, is 8-2 in league for 24 points. A win by the Vikings on Thursday will give them a four-point lead with one match remaining.
Palo Alto was coming off a loss and tie last wee, which temporarily derailed their title hopes and, perhaps, celebration.
The Vikings got a quick goal from senior Steve Blatman, his first ever, on a volley past the Spartans' keeper. That gave Paly a 1-0 halftime lead. After intermission, senior Wesley Woo took a cross and headed it to sophomore Michel-Ange Siaba, who then directed it into the upper left corner for a 2-0 lead.
Less than 10 minutes later, Paly tallied its third goal when Woo took a shot from outside the box that found its way past the diving keeper.
Palo Alto had several more opportunities on quick counters, but failed to make the final through pass or connect on the cross. The Paly defense once again was led by the tandem of junior keepers Alex Bonomi and Eli Friedlander.
In Mountain View, the Paly girls saw their six-match win streak end in the frustrating setback to the Spartans. The Vikings are now 8-2 in league (14-2 overall) and three points behind Mountain View with two matches remaining.
The Spartans (9-1, 14-3) scored twice in the first half -- first off a long throw in in the second minute and on a breakaway in the 35th minute -- by freshman Laura Carceroni and senior Morgan Matthews.
Paly had a better second half. Nika Woodfill hit the post before fellow junior Jacey Pederson scored from a ball over the top from senior Katie Foug.
"Not much of a chance for us to match Mountain View for the league crown now," said Paly assistant Eric Seedman. "But, we will keep fighting for a good CCS seeding."
In the PAL Bay Division, the Menlo-Atherton girls won their third straight league match with a 2-0 triumph over visiting Aragon. The win moves M-A to 6-3-2 in league play (9-4-3 overall) with a tough match ahead on Thursday against visiting Carlmont as the Bears fight for a spot in the postseason.
It was a tightly contested match for much of the game. It appeared that the Dons had scored first when a free kick awarded to Aragon resulted in a goal in the 8th minute, but it was called back for an offsides penalty. That proved to be the only shot the Dons would manage in the first half.
The Bears had a scoring chance in the 17th minute when junior Kelsey Reed fed a ball to sophomore Katie Guenin down the right wing. Guenin was streaking toward the goal when she was taken down in the box. Guenin's subsequent penalty kick was saved by the Dons' keeper and the score remained knotted 0-0.
It wasn't until the 38th minute that junior Sarah McLeod passed a ball through to fellow junior Miranda Simes, who hammered it in to put the Bears on the board 1-0. The second half also proved a tight match.
The Dons increased the pressure on the Bears and fired off two shots toward the end of the match. But, it was M-A that again scored in the waning minutes of the half when Reed sent a ball to freshman Josephine Cotto in the middle of the field. Cotto found Guenin, who used her speed to get through and beat the keeper 1 v 1 to put the ball in the back of the net and give the Bears a hard-fought victory. The Bears outshot the Dons 16-3 on the afternoon.
In the West Bay Athletic League (Skyline Division), Castilleja strengthened its hold on first place as Julia Lodoen scored three times in an 8-0 victory over visiting Mercy-Burlingame.
That victory, coupled with Pinewood's 1-0 upset over Crystal Springs, means Castilleja can win the division title on Thursday with a win or tie over Crystal Springs at Cubberley Community Center at 3 p.m.
The Gators are 7-0-2 in league and Crystal Springs is 7-1-1. The winner of Thursday's match will advance to the WBAL playoffs as the Skyline champion. Should the teams tie, Castilleja (10-3-3 overall) will win the division crown.
In Los Altos Hills, Pinewood (6-2-2, 9-6-3) concluded its season and avenged an earlier loss to Crystal Springs with its big triumph. The Panthers scored after a long goal kick from Arielle Beak that Jordan Berke ran down and put past the keeper in the 15th minute.
"The rest of the match came down to a very physical, yet exciting, challenge from either team with scoring chances on both ends," said Pinewood coach Michael Tetzlaff.
In the WBAL Foothill Division, Priory's winless season continued with a 3-0 loss to visiting King's Academy. The Panthers are 0-9 in league and 0-13-1 overall.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, the Gunn girls 6-4, 9-6-1) defeated host Wilcox, 1-0, on a goal by sophomore Lucy Augustine off an assist from freshman Natalie Hill.
The Gunn boys, meanwhile, remained atop the league standings following a 3-0 win over visiting Wilcox. The Titans (9-0-1, 12-4-2) got the winning goal from Sean MacPherson off an assist from fellow senior Alex Ruber. Guy Kasznik made it 2-0 in the first half with MacPherson assisting before Gunn got an own goal in the second half.