Palo Alto head coach Kurt Devlin probably wishes he had $10 for every shot that his girls sent over the crossbar in the Central Coast Section Division I soccer finale on Saturday.
"I'd be having a nice dinner tonight," he said.
Unfortunately for Devlin, there was no payout for him or payoff for his players as Palo Alto fell to rival Mountain View, 3-2, at Valley Christian High in San Jose.
The No. 2-seeded Vikings came in hoping to win their first outright section title since 1980, avenge an earlier loss to the Spartans that cost them the SCVAL De Anza Division title and, perhaps, become only the third Paly girls team to 18 or more matches in a single season.
Instead, the No. 1-seeded Spartans won their first title since 2012 and only the second in program history, beat Paly for the second time this season and finished an impressive 18-2-1.
Paly's downfall was evident to all watching on the warm morning. The Vikings had four shots sail over the crossbar in the first half and another, by junior Heidi Moeser, hit the bar. In the second half, Paly had at least seven good chances to score -- one from directly in front of the cage on a 1 v 1. Again, the ball sailed over the crossbar.
"It was one of those days when we couldn't convert," Devlin said. "We didn't have a good first half . . . We couldn't get over the hump . . . we just couldn't convert our chances."
Mountain View took a 2-0 halftime lead on goals by Isabel De Armas and Morgan Matthews as Paly's usually strong defense suffered some momentary lapses, resulting in both goals. Had the Vikings converted on at least half their missed shots, however, Paly could have held the lead at intermission.
Paly opened the second half much like the first, missing goals by just inches.
"You name it, we did it," Devlin said of the missed opportunities. "We just didn't get that one or two chances to go in."
Paly finally broke its scoring drought with under 11 minutes remaining when Jacey Pederson sent a cross to fellow junior Alison Lu, who found the back of the cage.
With Paly pressing forward, Mountain View's Ysa Baluyot got behind the back line and chipped a shot in over sophomore keeper Dhara Yu for a 3-1 lead with under five minutes to play. It appeared to be the final nail in Paly's coffin.
"I was thinking late that we were going to tie the game, and then they score," Devlin said.
In stoppage time, however, Palo Alto continued to attack and peppered Mountain View before Lu was credited with a goal following a wild scramble in front of the cage.
Down 3-2, Palo Alto had one final chance to tie with three players in the goal box with the ball loose before it was finally booted away. Moments later, time ran out on the Vikings.
"It's so disappointing," said Devlin. "Over the course of the season we were so super . . . A few more minutes, maybe we tie it up."
With that, Devlin looked to the future.
"Without question, the program will be stronger next year," he said. "But, so will Mountain View."
Palo Alto loses starters Katie Foug and Lena Chang, plus solid contributors like Priscella Bell and Aoi Sugihara, Olivia Musil and backup keeper Sarah Lim. Musil missed the season with an injury while Sugihara also has been sidelined.
Paly will return 16 players including the bulk of its scoring with Pederson and Nika Woodfill. Both, however, went scoreless on Saturday as the Vikings gave up three goals for only the first time this season.
Girls Division III
Top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep captured the second outright championship in program history with a 6-0 romp over No. 7 seed Sacred Heart Cathedral at Valley Christian.
The Gators, who also won in 2009 and shared the title with Menlo School last year, also tied the school record for for single-season wins by finishing 19-2-1.
SHP grabbed a 5-0 halftime lead on the way to outscoring its three CCS opponents by 21-1 -- the most goals in three games in girls' section history. The six goals also was the most ever scored for a title match in section history and the margin of victory was the widest, as well.
Freshman Mia Shenk completed a hat trick in just 16 minutes as she scored twice in the first 10 minutes and added a third goal in the 16th minute. She also assisted on a goal by sophomore Olivia Athens in the 10th minute. Junior Tierna Davidson added two goals plus two assists.
Sacred Heart Prep finished the season with 99 goals while allowing just 15. The Gators were outscored by Presentation and Palo Alto by a combined 6-2 in two of the first three matches of the season, sandwiched around a 4-1 win as the Gators opened 1-2. After that, SHP allowed just eight goals the rest of the season.