It was two matchups of No. 1 and 16-seeded teams, but only one was a surprise as the Menlo School boys and girls opened the Central Coast Section soccer playoffs with big victories on Wednesday.
In Atherton, the No. 1 Menlo girls took care of No. 16 King City, 7-0, as freshman Alexa Thomases scored three goals and junior Emily Demmon added two as the Knights improved to 11-2-6 and advanced to the Division II quarterfinals.
Menlo will host No. 9 Scotts Valley (10-6-3), a 1-0 winner over No. 8 Terra Nova, on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Menlo scored quickly against King City (9-8-2) as Demmon scored in less than 30 seconds, slotting a left-foot shot past the stunned keeper. Senior Zoe Enright and Wang added first-half goals for a 3-0 lead, which could have been as high as 10 goals had not the Knights missed so many easy shots -- sending balls sailing over the crossbar, hitting the sidebar and just missing right and left.
As the lead continued to build, Menlo first-year coach Ross Ireland had the luxury of having everyone play. Thomases took advantage of her time on the field to score the final three goals -- moving the Knights a step closer to winning their third section title in five years. Menlo previously won an outright crown in 2012 and shared one in '14 with Sacred Heart Prep.
Thomases wasn't a part of those championship teams, but is looking forward to helping win another.
"I was really excited because we worked so hard as a team all season," Thomases said. "I didn't know what to expect, but the upperclassmen were very helpful and supportive."
Senior keeper Schulyer Tilney-Volk has been in the cage four years now, but didn't think about Menlo's successes in even years.
"I haven't even thought about that," she said. But, 16 is my lucky number. Hopefully that means something good for us."
In Watsonville, the No. 16 Menlo boys shocked No. 1 Pajaro Valley in a huge Division II opener. The Knights (13-4-2) overcame a long bus ride and surprisingly low seed to earn a trip to Saturday's quarterfinals (1 p.m.) at No. 9 seed South San Francisco (11-5-4), a 3-2 winner over Harbor.
"We said, 'Look at this as an opportunity to be the first 16th seed to knock off a No, 1 seed,' and I think they really embraced that," Menlo coach Marc Kerrest said. "The boys are really excited and they fought back well."
With the scored tied 1-1, sophomore Dylan Williams passed to senior Will Chisholm, who sent the ball to senior Philip Hausen who then found brother Daniel Hausen overlapping on the right side for the go-ahead goal 10 minutes into the second half.
Five minutes later, junior goalie Nolan Peterson sent the ball downfield. Chisholm chased it down, beat two defenders to the bouncing ball, out jumped the goalie and headed in for a spectacular finish.
Along with an assist, Peterson had a strong outing, coming off the line several times to clear.
Pajaro Valley netted a goal in the 13th minute to start the scoring. From there, Menlo's defense held tough and the Knights peeled off three goals. In the 25th minute, freshman Ben Lasky provided a spark off the bench and got the ball to Chisholm who tied the score heading into the second half.
"The first 15 minutes were difficult," Kerrest said. "Pajaro Valley was strong, but once they scored, they settled down and felt, 'OK, we can do this.' "
In other CCS soccer openers Wednesday, the No. 7-seeded Sacred Heart Prep girls advanced in the Division II playoffs with a 6-0 romp over No. 10 Soquel (9-9-3) in Atherton and the No. 1 Menlo-Atherton girls eliminated No. 16 Gunn, 3-0, in Division I action on the Bears' field.
SHP opened defense of its division title with a relatively easy triumph over Soquel. Sophomore Mia Shenk continued her standout season by scoring three times in the first half, assisted twice by Lindsey Johnson and once by Carey Bradley. All came within a 20-minute span.
Freshman Ingrid Corrigan took over after intermission and scored back=to-back goals in the 58th and 62nd minutes off assists from Johnson. McKenna Agnotti wrapped up the scoring with Bradley assisting in the 82nd minute.
SHP once again played without senior standout and Stanford-bound Tierna Davidson, sidelined by injury. She's expected to miss at least one more match.
Sacred Heart Prep (13-5-2) next will face No. 2 Soledad (18-2-1), a 6-0 winner over No. 15 Summit Prep, in the quarterfinals on Saturday at Soledad at 7 p.m.
"Tierna will still be out the next few days," said SHP coach Ramiro Arredondo. "For sure she is out this game in Soledad, but if we win, we will check back in with her & her PT (physical trainer).
"Mia (Shenk) is playing well for us. She has found the back of the net out a bit easier and it due to our midfielders finding their timing and understanding of each other."
With Davidson out, Arredondo has looked to Bradley, a senior captain.
"She has been taking great leadership," Arredondo said. "She is our assist leader and has also been getting her name on the score sheet. At times, we give her a little bit more freedom to roam in the midfield, but for the most part she has been playing our defensive mid.
"We do not know much about Soledad but, looking at the their record, they have an impressive attack (86 goals for) and defensively given up 16."
In Division I, host Menlo-Atherton (13-4-2) continued its finest season in decades with a solid blanking of Gunn (10-8-1). The Bears next will host No. 8 Piedmont Hills (8-6-7), a 1-0 winner over No. 9 Carlmont, in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Menlo-Atherton grabbed a 1-0 lead when Mara Cavallaro slammed the ball into the net after a rebound on a shot by Katie Guenin. The Bears made it 2-0 on an own goal and wrapped things up when Margaret Child took a corner kick that Sarah McLeod controlled and finished on.
Ali Sivilotti, Briggs and Kasey Love all stood out on defense for the Bears. Gunn, meanwhile, saw the end of its first back-to-back trips to CCS since 2002-03.