The Palo Alto boys headed into the championship soccer match of the Oak Grove Tournament on Saturday without starting keeper Eli Friedlander, who was sidelined by injured. On the line was the Vikings' five-match win streak to start the season.
Paly coach Don Briggs took one of his top forwards, junior Michel-Ange Siaba, and moved him to goalie -- thus forcing Briggs to fill Siaba's position in the field.
Despite the personnel changes, everything worked out for Palo Alto as it battled Willow Glen to a scoreless tie in regulation before pulling off a 5-4 victory in penalty kicks at Oak Grove High in San Jose. Senior Dami Bolarinwa took the decisive penalty kick for the Vikings.
Willow Glen shot first. Both teams scored their first three PK's handily. Willow Glen's fourth PK shot was heading into the lower-right corner. Siaba dived to his left and smothered the shot. Paly made its fourth and the Rams made their fifth. Bolarinwa came in to win the tournament and cooly slammed the ball into the upper-left corner.
"This reminded me of one of our CCS games down in San Jose where we had to go to PK's," said Briggs. "I selected Dami, as a freshman, to be the fifth shooter. We talked about that when I made up the PK order (Friday night). He remembered and he was ready to go fifth again. The game was again on the line and he came up big again as a senior."
As for Siaba's performance in goal?
"He had a great game, including an aggressive coming out from the goal and breaking up a one on one," Briggs said. "He also made the save that allowed Dami to be the hero."
Palo Alto (5-0-1) now takes a break for the holidays, returning on January 6 to visit Los Gatos to open the SCVAL De Anza Division season. The Paly girls (5-0) are also undefeated and will host Los Gatos on the same day in another division opener.
At the De La Salle Showcase in Concord, both Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School fell on the second day of action.
Menlo lost to Campolindo, 3-1. The Knights (3-2) fell behind early after a Campolindo striker got behind their backs to put his team ahead. Menlo missed a chance to equalize from the penalty spot before Campolindo doubled its lead late in the half off a free kick from midfield.
Menlo started the second half in much better fashion and halved the deficit a few minutes in. Freshman winger Ben Lasky beat his defender along the endline with some fancy dribbling skills before finding senior striker Will Chisholm, who made no mistake with the finish. Menlo continued to press but couldn't find a second goal. The Cougars added a third goal in the dying minutes as Menlo was pushing for the equalizer.
Sacred Heart Prep (1-2-2) dropped a 3-1 decision to St. Mary's (Berkeley). The Yellow Jackets scored in the first half and made it 2-0 early in the second before Juan Rascon got SHP on the board following an assist from Matthew MacFarquhar.
Despite playing without two starters, Pinewood rolled to a 5-0 nonleague win at winless James Lick in San Jose. In the 17th minute, Pinewood's Emma Doettling took a corner and Amrita Mecker finished for an early 1-0 lead. The Panthers (3-2-1) added goals in the 31st minute (Jordan Berke) and Mecker again in the 36th minute. in the 44th minute, Mecker took a direct free kick from about 20 yards out, and the keeper let it slip through her hands. Berke (assist from Mecker) added a goal in the 56th minute to complete the shutout.
In Pacifica, Castilleja (0-5-1) and host Terra Nova played to a 0-0 deadlock in nonleague action. Sarah Abramowitz had eight saves in the second half for the Gators when Amanda McMaster coming up with four saves in the first half.
Sacred Heart Prep kept its perfect season intact with a 60-30 nonleague win over host San Mateo on Saturday. Senior Riley Hemm drained a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 15 points and Ma'ata Makoni had a pair of treys and also tallied 15 points as the Gators improved to 7-0. Sophomores Grace Battles and Tatum Angotti combined for 22 points for SHP, which grabbed a 36-12 halftime lead.
In San Jose, junior Akayla Hackson tossed in 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to pace Pinewood to a 69-64 overtime victory over Bishop O'Dowd in the Presentation Shootout. Hackson also added four assists and seven steals and made seven of eight free throws to spark the Panthers (4-2) to the big win.
Pinewood made a season best of 25 of 32 from the free-throw line to offset 20 percent shooting from three-point range (6 of 30). Senior Chloe Eackles added 15 points and seven rebounds and freshman Hannah Jump contributed 13 points.
Eackles hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. Hackson made a big steal late in the extra period and Erin Poindexter-McHan wrapped things up with two free throws.
In another Presentation Shootout game, Priory got 17 points and eight rebounds from sophomore Tatiana Reese in a 46-45 win over Notre Dame-Belmont. Freshman Ila Lane added 14 points and 13 rebounds with Gabby Ruiz contributing 11 points and six rebounds.
Also in San Jose, Palo Alto battled to the end but came up just short in a 57-55 nonleague loss to host Valley Christian. The difference in the game was free-throw shooting, where Valley Christian was 18 of 21 from the line while Paly was 13 of 20.
The Vikings had two players out with sickness or injury and lost Lauren Koyama to fouls in the first minute of the fourth quarter on an offensive foul. Julie Chandler, Maddy Atwater and Skyler Burris took up the slack for a short-handed team. Palo Alto had two chances to win the game in the last 10 seconds, but the shots didn't fall. Atwater drained five 3-pointers for 15 points while Burris and Chandler each contributed 14 points as Paly fell to 5-2.
In Burlingame, Eastside Prep improved to 6-2 with a 62-30 nonleague romp over host Burlingame and Gunn moved to 7-3 with a 67-51 victory over host Aragon. No details on either game were provided.
Lucas Fioretti hit two key 3-pointers down the stretch and senior twin brother Christian made four free throws in the final 20 seconds to carry Menlo-Atherton to a 58-52 nonleague victory over Riordan in the annual Merv Harris Classic at Serra High on Saturday night.
Riordan (3-4) raced to a 22-11 first-quarter lead as Eddie Stansberry has three 3's and 11 first-quarter points. But, M-A held Riordan to five second-quarter points and countered with 13 points as Blake Henry scored all of his eight points in the period to pull the Bears (4-1) with within 27-24 at the half.
After a back and forth third quarter, M-A took the lead as Eric Norton and Lucas Fioretti had key steals before the Fioretti brothers wrapped things up. Norton led the team with 19 points and seven rebounds. Christian Fioretti had 11 points, Lucas Fioretti added nine points, eight rebounds and six steals and Henry had eight points.
In San Jose, Palo Alto suffered its first loss of the season, 57-43, to host Bellarmine in the DJ Frandsen Memorial Tournament. The Vikings (4-1) grabbed a 12-11 first-quarter lead, but the Bells (6-0) countered with a 19-9 second quarter to take control. Jack Simison and fellow junior Miles Tention each had 14 points for Paly.
In an earlier game at the tourney, Sacred Heart Prep suffered a 92-64 blowout loss to Leland, which grabbed a 46-28 halftime lead. Connor Mosses had a season-high 23 points for the Gators (1-6), who have been playing without a handful of starters who have been playing football.
In Half Moon Bay, Menlo School remained winless after five games following a 58-38 loss to the host Cougars (5-0). The Knights trailed by 28-14 at halftime.