The Priory girls soccer team was already facing a challenge, returning six players from a roster of 23 that reached last year's Central Coast Section Division IV championship contest, a game it lost, in overtime, to its West Bay Athletic League rival Sacred Heart Prep.
Facing another season in the highly-competitive WBAL (Menlo School and Notre Dame Belmont also won CCS titles) without the two top scorers in school history will make it all the more challenging.
Priory's Clara Feng
Leah Nelson (left)
With senior co-captain Maya Blevins scoring twice and adding an assist and returning goalie Emily Stanger playing a strong game, the host Panthers opened their season with a 4-0 victory over Nueva on Tuesday.
The Mavericks returned all but three players from a team that finished 12-2-1 last year, which included a 12-match unbeaten streak, and qualified for the CCS Division IV playoffs.
Priory travels to play Sequoia, which made the CCS Division III playoffs, at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Panthers also meet Christopher, which reached the CCS Division I finals, Menlo-Atherton, which reached the Open Division, and Santa Cruz, a Division III semifinalist, before opening WBAL play.
Priory's nonleague opponents combined for a record of 65-33-16 last year (45-7-8 in league play).
Twin sisters Anysa Gray and Amaya Gray decided it was better to forego their senior seasons as they concentrate on their considerably bright futures at UC Berkeley.
The Gray's committed to San Diego before the school year, later de-committed, and committed to Cal. Both are also track standouts at Priory.
Against Nueva, Megan Gerwe scored just before halftime to put the Panthers on top. Leah Nelson also scored and Kaela Marsheck recorded an assist.
Priory dominated time of possession, though it took awhile before Priory broke it open with three goals in the final 20 minutes of play.
In other girls soccer games:
Menlo 1, M-A 1
Sophomore Carolina Espinosa scored on an assist from senior Sidney Peña early in the contest and M-A scored with 7:28 left in the game.
Menlo freshman goalie Samantha Sellers made three saves in her prep debut.
Menlo plays Homestead in the Firebird Classic at Fremont-Sunnyvale at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Menlo-Atherton travels to play Palo Alto at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Sacred Heart Prep 1, Castilleja 1
Amanda Khu gave Castilleja a 1-0 lead in the first half off a corner kick from Noa Goldstein.
SHP tied it, also on a corner kick, late in the first half. Megan Tinsley took a Fiona Perkocha centering pass and headed the ball into the net.
Both teams created chances in the second half but both goalie came up big.