After seeing their SCVAL De Anza Division soccer title hopes all but disappear last week in addition to having its best player sidelined by a knee injury, the Palo Alto girls had every reason to be flat for their nonleague match against Sacred Heart Prep on Monday night.
But, that wasn't the case. The Vikings bounced back from their first loss of the season in a big way and posted a 5-1 triumph over visiting Sacred Heart Prep.
"Our best game of the year, individually and as a team," said Paly coach Kurt Devlin. "The freshmen played their most minutes of the season tonight and were superb. Good bounce-back game after Friday's loss."
Paly had plenty of talent and desire to make up for the loss of senior Jacey Pederson, who sat out the match as a precaution.
"Jacey Pederson is out with an apparent sprained cartilage," explained Devlin, "and is out for a short time."
Pederson is expected to miss Wednesday's league match at Saratoga, but Devlin hopes to have her back in time for Senior Day on Feb. 17 against visiting Santa Clara.
Paly senior Alison Lu, who also left Friday's loss to Mountain View -- with leg cramps -- was back in the lineup "and played fantastic," said Devlin. "Injuries are still mounting, but a great night overall."
SHP, which was playing without injured senior Tierna Davidson -- she has been sidelined since Feb. 19 -- took the lead in the 13th minute on a goal by Carey Bradley that was assisted by Mia Shenk.
Paly tied it on a goal by Nika Woodfill, assisted by Heidi Moeser in the 19th minute. Moeser then scored on a half-volley with an assist from Emily Tomz in the 47th minute and Woodfill scored again with a double-assist from Ansley Queen and Lu in the 53rd minute.
Isabella Bonomi scored in the 62nd minute, with freshmen Claire Chen assisting, and freshman Caroline Furrier rounded out the scoring in the 73rd minute on an assist from Ally Scheve.
Palo Alto improved to 14-1-1 and has outscored the opposition by 56-5 this season. Sacred Heart Prep fell to 10-5-2. The Gators, battling their own injury problems, are still in the hunt for the West Bay Athletic League title, needing to win twice this week to likely force a co-championship with Menlo School.
Palo Alto (8-1-1, 25 points) has two divisional matches left and needs to win both to finish with a 10-1-1 record and 31 points. The Vikings are still in first place. Second-place Mountain View is 7-0-2 (23 points) with three matches remaining and can finish with 32 points.
Both teams, however, appear to be locks on advancing to the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, Pinewood dropped a 3-2 decision to Crystal Springs at the Mayfield Soccer Complex in Palo Alto. The Panthers (4-4, 8-8-1 overall) took a 2-1 halftime lead on goals by senior Olivia Biggs (penalty kick) and senior Amrita Mecker (assist by sophomore Emma Doettling).
Pinewood has two matches remaining, but will not advance to the WBAL playoffs as the division's No. 1 team.
Castilleja seniors Ellie Chen and Lindsay Rosston celebrated Senior Night by leading the Gators to an exciting 47-39 comeback victory over Notre DameSan Jose before a boisterous crowd on Monday evening.
The victory was Castilleja's first in the WBAL Foothill Division this season.
After pregame ceremonies honoring Chen and Rosston, the Gators (1-7, 9-12) fell behind by 13 points in the first half before freshmen Katie Fearon and Anika Adzich ignited a run that included nine points by Chen to cut the deficit to 22-18 at the half.
Chen and Rosston combined for 11 third-quarter points, but the Regents still led by 35-31.
Urged on by the home fans featuring many of the Castilleja class of 2016, the Gators finally took the lead midway through the fourth period as Cate Alder sank back-to-back treys while Rosston and Jashee Yang grabbed critical rebounds.
Chen scored 10 points down the stretch to seal the win, finishing with a career-high 28 points on five 3-pointers, with six rebounds and four blocks. Alder scored 13 and freshman Claire Pisani pulled down nine rebounds.
The Gators next play at Menlo School on Friday night at 6 p.m.