Menlo-SHP girls meet again in CCS soccer title match


The Menlo School, Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo-Atherton girls will all play for Central Coast Section soccer titles on Saturday at Valley Christian High in San Jose. Only two teams, however, can win.

Top-seeded Menlo (13-2-6) and No. 7 Sacred Heart Prep (15-5-2) will meet for the Division II title at 3 p.m. Top-seeded Menlo-Atherton (14-4-3) will follow at 5:30 p.m., taking on No. 10 Branham (13-7-3) in the Division I finale.

Given the history between Menlo and SHP, however, maybe three teams will walk away with section trophies -- or perhaps a share of one.

The Knights and Gators were co-champs in 2014. Prior to that, SHP won its first outright crown in 2009 and Menlo did the same in 2012. The Gators won last year's section crown.

Also setting the stage for a possible co-title is the fact the two neighborhood rivals played to a pair of ties during the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) season.

Menlo advanced with a 2-1 overtime victory over No. 5 Saratoga (11-5-5) at Westmont High while SHP did the same with a 4-2 triumph over No. 3 Burlingame (15-5-3) on the Panthers' home field.

In a Division I semifinal at Burlingame, Menlo-Atherton advanced with a 3-2 penalty-kick decision over No. 12 St. Ignatius (11-6-6).

At Westmont High, the Menlo girls played to a 1-1 tie after regulation and a first overtime period. The Knights broke through when sophomore Hunter MacDonald scored on a pass from sophomore Julia Wang and a through ball from freshman Alexa Thomases. It was a fitting birthday gift for MacDonald.

The Falcons' Kimberly Chen scored the first goal midway through the first period and the Knights went into halftime, trailing 1-0.

With 16:00 left, Menlo junior Cleo King scored unassisted as the Saratoga goalie came out of the box, and Menlo had itself a 1-1 deadlock.

The teams finished regulation tied, and the game went to a pair of 10-minute overtime periods.

"The mood was positive going into overtime as we felt the momentum had changed," Menlo coach Ross Ireland said.

Senior keeper Schuyler Tilney-Volk had several standout saves for the Knights, who will be attempting to win (or tie) for a third section title in five years -- all coming in even years.

Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, will be attempting to win back-to-back titles for the first time.

SHP got on the board in the 12th minute when Cameron Gordon scored off an assist from Lindsey Johnson. Mia Shenk scored five minutes later off an assist from senior Tierna Davidson, who was making her first appearance in six weeks after suffering an ankle injury against Menlo on January 19. Davidson received medical clearance earlier in the day.

Davidson provided the eventual winning goal in the 29th minute, unassisted, and Carey Bradley scored off an assist from Johnson to wrap things up in the 67th minute.

Open Division girls

Getting both goals from senior Jill Aguilera, No. 3-seeded Woodside (16-1-3) defeated Mitty, 2-0, to advance to the CCS finals on Friday against undefeated Mountain View (19-0-2) at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara at 4:30 p.m.

Division I girls

Menlo-Atherton will have the opportunity to win its first CCS title in program history following its victory over St. Ignatius.

SI grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first half, but M-A got the equalizer when senior Sarah McLeod converted a penalty kick. The Bears fell behind again at 2-1, but strong defense by sophomore keeper Breanna Sandoval and defenders senior Kasey Love, juniors Allison Gallbraith and Ali Sivilotti and freshman Grace Brieger, with help from the M-A midfield, prevented any further goals.

With seconds left in the game, M-A sophomore Mara Cavallaro fed a ball to junior Katie Guenin near the right side of the PK box, and Guenin drilled it into the upper corner of the net to tie the score.

The double-overtime was hard fought, with neither team producing any goals during the 20 minutes of extra time, though an M-A attempt by junior Nicole Salz was called back by the referee in the late second OT period.

The penalty-kick round saw Sandoval stop two SI attempts, and another sailed over the net. M-A junior Margaret Child scored the first PK, followed by McLeod and junior Alissa McNerney, who sealed the M-A win.

Division II boys

Menlo School saw its Cinderella season end in a 1-0 loss to Prospect (18-4-1) in a semifinal match Wednesday at Westmont High in Campbell.

The No. 16-seeded Knights (13-5-3) had knocked off No. 1 Pajaro Valley and No. 9 South San Francisco to get to the semifinals against No. 13 Prospect. Menlo was hoping to return to the title match and win its first outright championship.

Prospect ruined those plans by scoring just before halftime and holding on.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Menlo Athletics

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