Sports

Menlo boys keep playoff hopes alive with historic victory

 

This has been a soccer season unlike any other for the Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School boys in the West Bay Athletic League.

For the first time since both squads joined the league in 2009, neither team is sitting in first place and most likely neither will capture the division title.

Also for the first time, Menlo has a chance to make the Central Coast Section playoffs at the same time SHP misses them. And, the Gators' unbeaten streak against the Knights has come to an end.

All this was decided following Menlo's thrilling 1-0 victory that was wrapped up when senior Will Chisholm took a pass from sophomore Dylan Williams and slotted a shot past SHP junior keeper Diego Sanchez long after the scoreboard clock had stopped for the final two minutes plus stoppage time.

Menlo had come into the match with a record of 0-11-5 against SHP since 2009.

"I guess the 17th was a charm," said Menlo coach Marc Kerrest. "A lot of seniors really wanted this . . . obviously, this a big game whether we are playing for first or last place."

The teams actually were playing for neither as King's Academy won on Wednesday and is sitting safely on top of the WBAL with a 7-0-1 mark and 22 points with four matches remaining.

Menlo, meanwhile, improved to 5-2-1 in league (9-4-1 overall) and kept its hopes alive for a CCS playoff berth. The Knights need to win their final four matches and have King's lose twice just to tie for the title.

SHP dropped to 4-3-1 (7-6-3 overall) and into third place. Only the top two teams advance to the postseason.

While Menlo isn't harboring any title hopes at this point, SHP's loss ended a streak of seven straight outright or shared WBAL crowns. Not only are the Gators out of title contention, but they are facing their first season without a postseason berth since joining the WBAL -- depending on how second-place Menlo fares over the next four matches.

"It's too early to start doing the math," said Kerrest. "A lot can happen in these final four matches."

Menlo can control its destiny by winning out, thus knocking SHP out of the CCS playoffs. The Gators, who have one final match against King's Academy, could slip back into the postseason should Menlo slip up.

That's why Kerrest told his team after the post-match celebration: "We've got more to do. Four more league games and then get into the big dance . . . We can't let this be the top of our season . . . We just need to focus on what we can control."

What Menlo controlled Wednesday was the SHP offensive attack. While the Gators had their chances, Menlo keeper Nolan Peterson repelled the attacks.

"Nolan played a huge game," said Kerrest, who also handed out compliments to defenders Michael and David Quezada, Tyler McGraw and Andrew Arnold.

For SHP ooach Armando del Rio, the loss was frustrating and disappointing.

"We've had difficulties finding the net," he said. "I don't think we have 20 team goals."

And the loss of the streak over Menlo?

"Eventually it's going to end," he said. "I did not want it to happen on my watch. But, that's the game of soccer."

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto moved to within a victory of clinching the league title and a berth into the CCS Open Division following a 5-1 victory over visiting Gunn.

The Vikings improved to 7-0-2 in league (13-0-3 overall) while the Titans fell to 1-6-2 and 1-11-2.

Palo Alto has 23 points while second-place Homestead (4-1-4) has 16 following a 4-2 win over Santa Clara on Wednesday. Both teams have three matches remaining. The Mustangs' best finish is 25 points while one more win by the Vikings give them 26.

Paly will visit Mountain View on Friday (3:30 p.m.) with an eye on clinching.

Against Gunn, Brian Tracy scored in the 28th minute off an assist from Roberto Sotelo. Neil Verwillow got the eventual match-winner in the 33rd minute off another Sotelo assist.

Paly scored three more times in the second half -- one unassisted goal by Cole Tierney and two by Allesandro Reale -- before Gunn got on the board with a goal from Alper Karakas.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton suffered a scoreless deadlock with visiting Hillsdale and fell into a three-way tie for first place with Sequoia and Aragon, all with 6-2-1 league marks. The Bears will host Sequoia on Friday at 4 p.m.

Girls soccer

Palo Alto remained undefeated in the SCVAL De Anza Division and got some help to take over sole possession of first place.

While the Vikings were blanking last-place and host Milpitas, 6-0, previous co-leader Mountain View was being held to a 0-0 draw by Saratoga. As a result, Paly is sitting atop the standings at 8-0-1 (13-0-1 overall) while Mountain View drops to second at 6-0-2 (13-0-2).

Palo Alto will host Mountain View on Friday with a chance to win the division title.

At Milpitas, senior Jacey Pederson scored three goals with Ally Scheve, Emily Tomz and Alison Lu scoring solo tallies.

In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn's title hopes took a hit following a 1-1 deadlock with visiting Lynbrook. Natalie Hill gave the Titans a 1-0 lead in the second half with a penalty kick, but Lynbrook later countered. Gunn dropped to 6-2-1 in league (8-5-1 overall) after beginning the day alone in first place.

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