It was a day that started out with promise for the Palo Alto boys and girls soccer teams. The boys needed a victory to claim the SCVAL De Anza Division title while the girls needed a triumph to set the stage for a clinching win next week.
When the day ended, neither team reached its goal. The Paly boys settled for a 1-1 deadlock with Mountain View while the Paly girls suffered a 2-0 loss to the Spartans.
As a result, the boys still can win the division crown next week when they play host to Fremont at 3:30 p.m. Paly is 7-0-3 in league (24 points) and 13-0-4 overall.
The Paly girls, who still hold a slim lead in the SCVAL De Anza Division at 8-1-1 (25 points) over Mountain View (7-0-2 and 23 points), now must hope for the Spartans to lose or tie in one of their final three matches to claim the division title. If Mountain View wins out, the title belongs to the Spartans.
The Paly boys fell behind to host Mountain View, trailing 1-0 at halftime. Palo Alto answered in the second when senior Dami Bolarinwa scored off an assist from Ariya Momeny.
"This was a tight game and Mountain View played with a lot intensity in the first half and scored on a cross to an unmarked man on the far post," said Paly coach Don Briggs. "The second half evened out with both team having a few limited opportunities. We were fortunate to have a nice combination play with Momeny laying off a nice pass to Bolarinwa, who hammered a shot past the diving Mountain View keeper."
Briggs, however, felt his team escaped with the win due to having so many injuries.
"We do have so many injuries that we ended our game with 13 players," he said. "Our roster is 19 players, but we had 14 for Mountain View and brought up a freshman to fill in. Trying to patch holes has left other holes, and we have given up an inordinate numbers of goals for us -- six in the last four games versus two in the previous 12 games."
In Palo Alto, the Viking girls let a golden opportunity get away in their loss to Mountain View. Had Paly pulled out a victory, it could have clinched the De Anza Division crown by beating host Saratoga next Wednesday.
Instead, the Vikings saw their streak of 12 straight shutouts end after giving up their first goals in division play this season. Paly had outscored the opposition, 51-2, prior to Friday's outcome.
"Tough day for us," said Paly coach Kurt Devlin. "We have not had much success against Mountain View during my tenure at Paly. All games are tight and tense but we normally have come out on the wrong end."
Palo Alto gave up two first-half goals as the speedy Spartans took advantage of the Vikings' not having enough defenders back.
"Their style of play (quick counter and long balls to FAST forwards) is our Achilles' heel," said Devlin. "Defensively, we do not handle this part of the game well -- unless I stack our defense with our top players, but that negates our attacking ability. Actually, I went against my gut instinct to do this (the same as what we did in our first meeting) and play for a draw -- and put us in line for the title.
"I kick myself for not doing this as Mountain View had to attack or league (title) was out of their hand," continued Devlin. "Difficult, because it is tough to win De Anza League -- and we had our opportunity. Now we need luck. And, to their credit, Mountain View played well -- better than I thought. Very low risk (we play a very high risk style of play) and their pressure on the ball combined with our lack of composure and patience favored them."
While Paly came out aggressive in the second half, things took a turn for the worst when seniors Alison Lu and Jacey Pederson each left with injuries. Lu suffered leg cramps while Pederson left with a knee injury. Reportedly, there was no swelling.
Both players are crucial to the team's success the rest of the season. Lu anchors the defense -- she made an outstanding save in the first half by clearing a shot attempt -- while the UCLA-bound Pederson is a factor anywhere on the field.
Making her injury even worse was the fact her family was in attendance, including brother Joc of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For the second straight match, Menlo-Atherton failed to post a victory in PAL Bay Division action. While the Bears had to settle for a second straight tie, they didn't lose much ground as they battled visiting Sequoia to a 1-1 stalemate on Friday.
Both teams came in tied with Aragon for first place, all with 6-2-1 records. The Dons won on Friday to improve to 7-2-1 and take sole possession of first. The Bears and Cherokees are now 6-2-2. After a scoreless first half, M-A (10-3-2 overall) got on the board when Nicolas Jendeleit took a pass from Jake Simone and finished.
In the West Bay Athletic League, Menlo all but wrapped up second place following a 4-1 victory over visiting Harker. At the same time, third-place Sacred Heart Prep was upset by visiting Eastside Prep, 1-0.
As a result, the Knights are 6-2-1 in league (19 points) and 10-4-1 overall while the Gators are 4-4-1 (12 points) and 7-7-3 with three matches remaining. One more victory will give Menlo the WBAL's second automatic berth into the CCS playoffs.
Friday's match, which raised money for Kicks vs Cancer, saw Menlo start strongly and take an early lead. Senior striker Will Chisholm flicked a booming punt from junior goalie Nolan Peterson right into the path of sophomore winger Dylan Williams, who calmly beat his defender, rounded the Eagle keeper and slotted the ball in the empty net to put the Knights ahead.
Menlo doubled its lead midway through the half on a swift counter attack that saw Chisholm set up junior midfielder Daniel Hausen, who made no mistake with his clinical finish. Harker pulled a goal back right before halftime when the Knights failed to clear a free kick into the box.
After playing provider in the first half, Chisholm got himself on the scoreboard twice in the second half on assists from Williams and senior captain Andrew Arnold. This capped a strong week for Chisholm who led the team with three goals and two assists -- including the late-game winner against Sacred Heart Prep on Wednesday.
Menlo School pulled into a tie for first place with Sacred Heart Prep in the WBAL Foothill Division following a 3-0 win over host Harker.
The Knights (6-0-2 league, 8-2-5 overall) got a boost from senior Zoe Enright, who scored the first goal in the 13th minute, and junior Cleo King, who delivered two goals.
King scored in the 17th minute, then again eight minutes later -- both goals coming on assists from Enright. The Knights, who unleashed 25 shots, also got a standout performance from Eliza Crowder.
Menlo and SHP both have 20 points with two matches remaining and have locked up automatic berths into the CCS playoffs. The only thing left to be decided is the WBAL's top seed for the postseason. The rivals have played to a pair of regular-season ties.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn saw its title hopes disappear in a 2-1 loss to host Wilcox. The Titans (6-3-1, 8-6-1) fell behind 2-0 early on two soft goals before scoring just before the end of the first half. The Titans had numerous opportunities to score in the second half, but were unable to convert the equalizer.