M-A boys two wins away from winning PAL soccer title


Menlo-Atherton senior Mario Rodriguez scored three goals to help the Bears defeat host Sequoia, 6-1, and remain on top of the PAL Bay Division boys' soccer standings on Wednesday.

M-A improved to 9-2 in league (12-3 overall) and stayed ahead of second place Burlingame (7-2-1), which suffered a 1-0 loss to South San Francisco. Sequoia (6-4-1) stayed in third place, but was eliminated from title contention with three matches left in the regular season.

The Bears, who have won seven straight, visit South San Francisco on Friday before hosting Burlingame on Monday and Woodside (2-4-5) next Wednesday, both at 4 p.m.

M-A currently has 27 points and needs to win only twice in its final three matches to claim the league title. The most points Burlingame can total is 31.

Rodriguez tallied the opening before Kyle Bryan scored late in the first half with what proved to be the winning goal. Rodriguez added a penalty kick right before halftime for a 3-0 lead.

After Sequoia scored, Rodriguez got his third goal and Kyle Smith made it 5-1. M-A sophomore Ray Malan provided the final goal on a penalty kick after being taken down in the box with time nearly expired.

In the West Bay Athletic League, Priory pulled a big 2-1 upset of visiting Menlo School on Wednesday, putting first-place Sacred Heart Prep in position to win the title perhaps earlier than expected.

SHP takes a 7-0-2 league mark and 23 points into Thursday's home match against Crystal Springs, which upended King's Academy on Wednesday. Menlo (6-3-1) is in second place with 19 points and King's (6-3) is tied with Harker (6-3) for third with 18. SHP needs to win only two of its final three matches to capture it seventh straight WBAL title.

SHP and Menlo still have matches remaining against King's.

Priory, meanwhile, continued its late-season surge by upending Menlo's title hopes. Bailey Marsheck tallied the first goal on an assist from Tim Dannis and Sergio Lopez got the winner with Alberto Coppola assisting for the Panthers (3-6-1, 6-9-1).

Menlo (6-3-1, 8-6-2) battled back from its 2-0 halftime deficit when junior Will Chisholm headed home a corner kick from junior Matt Joss. The Knights had earlier missed a great opportunity when Chisholm passed to junior Tyler McGraw, whose shot was stopped by the Priory keeper.

"Very intense game," said Priory coach Paul Moran. "We played very well, particularly first half (offense) and great second half (defense).

"I hate making excuses, but earlier on in the season we did not have our full roster available for several matches -- some injuries, some illnesses. It played a part, and our results showed it. Lately, we've had everyone available, and the guys have stepped up in a big way in terms of intensity, confidence and leadership. On Friday (in a 2-2 tie with SHP), and especially today, we left everything out there on the field, and it made all the difference."

Priory took the game to Menlo from the very start, "which might have caught them by surprise, considering how the match went the last time we played them," Moran said a 3-0 loss. "Our attacking combination of Sergio Lopez and Alberto Coppola was a constant threat and, I really cannot say enough about the amount of heart that senior captains Bailey Marsheck and Ben Clock played with."

Girls basketball

Castilleja's senior forward Maddie Tarr posted a double-double to lead the Gators to a 45-38 WBAL Foothill Division win over host Mercy-San Francisco on Wednesday.

Tarr and Ellie Chen combined for nine first-quarter points and Paige Vermeer and sophomore Sam Gerber sank second-quarter treys to pace the Gators (2-8, 10-12) to a 21-13 halftime lead.

Vermeer and Tarr scored 18 more in the second half and Castilleja was ahead by 15 in the final period. The Skippers then staged a furious rally that fell short as Tarr, Vermeer and Chen all sank last-minute free throws.

Tarr finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, Vermeer had 15 and nine, Chen scored 10, Gerber five and Cate Alder had a career-high eight rebounds.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn dropped a 50-45 decision to host Wilcox. Archer Olson had 10 points and five rebounds for the Titans (3-7, 6-11) with Olivia Tapia adding nine points and four rebounds. Paige Ogawa finished with eight points and four rebounds for Gunn, which lost its fourth straight.

In nonleague action, host Menlo School grabbed a 27-26 halftime lead but couldn't hold on and dropped a 65-55 game to visiting Salesian (Richmond). The Knights (15-6) were led by Olivia Ferrando's 14 points.

Menlo plays host to Sacred Heart Prep on Friday (5:30 p.m.) before hosting Eastside Prep on Monday (6:30 p.m.) in a battle for second place in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) race.

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