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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, January 30, 2002

Titles on Titles on (January 30, 2002)the line this week

Menlo boys, Castilleja both can clinch by winning big matches

by Keith Peters

Titles can be won and playoff berths clinched this week by local team, if the weather cooperates.

The Menlo boys can win their first PAL Bay Division crown by beating visiting Burlingame on Friday at 3 p.m. The Knights are 6-0-1 (10-3-3 overall) and can finish with 22 points with a victory on Friday.

Should Menlo falter, Menlo-Atherton (4-1, 9-4-2) could steal the PAL championship away by winning its final three division matches against visiting Terra Nova on Wednesday (3 p.m.), at Sequoia on Friday and at Woodside on Feb. 6.

Should Menlo-Atherton lose just one of those matches, Burlingame can earn the division's No. 1 seed for the Central Coast Section playoffs by beating Menlo on Friday.

Menlo, of course, controls its destiny. The Knights will tune up for Friday's crucial showdown by hosting PAL Ocean Division foe Westmoor on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Not so clear cut is the SCVAL De Anza Division boys' race, where five teams still have a legitimate shot at one of the league's three automatic CCS berths. The division tightened considerably when first-place Santa Clara (5-2-2) was beaten by LosAltos, 2-0, on Saturday.

Heading into this week, Santa Clara had 17 points, Homestead (5-3-2) had 17, Gunn (4-4-2) had 14, Los Altos (4-4-1) had 13 and Palo Alto (3-2-4) also had 13.

The Titans helped themselves by routing Los Gatos, 4-0, last week as Andrew Jacobson scored two goals while Jorge Hernandez and Joey Greenwald contributed one each.

Gunn has two regular-season matches remaining this week, Homestead (Tuesday) and Santa Clara (Thursday). Both are at home. Two victories will give the Titans 20 points and likely vault them into second place.

Rival Palo Alto could help Gunn earn a share of the division title by beating Santa Clara on Tuesday. If the Bruins go 1-2 in their final three matches, they'll also finish with 20 points.

The Vikings, meanwhile, could win the division by winning their final three matches --- if Santa Clara helps out as mentioned. That would give them 22 points and vault them from fifth to first. A 1-1-1 finish by Santa Clara would greatly aid Paly, if the one loss is to the Vikings.

Should Homestead finish 1-1, with the loss to Gunn, and Paly does what it needs to do with Santa Clara's cooperation, the Titans and Vikings both will earn CCS berths.

But, that's a lot of ifs.

The same could be said for the SCVAL De Anza Division girls' race, where Palo Alto (6-4, 11-5) greatly helped itself by upsetting first-place St. Francis, 2-1, last Thursday. A loss would have knocked the Vikings into a third-place tie with Gunn (4-3-2, 7-4-3). Instead, Paly holds the third and final automatic CCS berth entering this week.

Paly had a rescheduled match with Los Altos set for Monday, and was scheduled to host Monta Vista (Tuesday) and Cupertino (Thursday) before closing out its season at Los Altos on Feb. 5.

A 10-4 division finish by the Vikings will be good enough for second place and a trip to the postseason.

Paly certainly resurrected its season at the right time, after losing four straight matches. Coincidently, the victory came on the Lancers' field, where Paly upset St. Francis last year to get the Vikings rolling to the division championship.

While St. Francis is a virtual lock at 9-1-1 with three to play, the Lancers still have to play at Gunn on Feb. 5.

Paly certainly could have put some doubt in the Lancers' minds with its shocker, sparked by goals from senior Miranda Ford and sophomore Katherine Stolpa.

Stolpa got the game-winner in the second half when Waverley Aufmuth dropped a direct kick into the Lancers' goalbox and Stolpa got a foot on it, booting it home.

Paly keeper Dory Gannes survived a couple of close calls in the waning moments, but her defenders always were in the right place to keep the upset intact.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton (5-2-3, 10-5-3) moved into second place and to within three points of first-place Carlmont (7-1) following a 1-0 squeaker over visiting Terra Nova last week on a goal by Katherine Daiss.

The Bears can finish in second by going 2-1 in their final three matches, only if one of the wins is against Aragon on Feb. 7. Aragon (5-2-2) began this week a point behind the Bears, but would have to go 2-0-1 and beat M-A to move ahead of the Bears.

Menlo-Atherton played host to San Mateo on Tuesday and visits Carlmont on Feb. 5 before hosting Aragon.

Speaking of showdowns, Castilleja (11-0, 13-1) has one this week despite its gaudy first-place mark in the Private Schools Athletic League.

The Gators traveled Tuesday to face second-place Redwood Christian (9-1), needing a victory or otherwise facing the possibility of tying Redwood for first place --- thus losing the No. 1 seed to the CCS playoffs.

Castilleja, of course, can pretty much wrap things up with a victory, giving the Gators a two-match lead over RC and Mercy-Burlingame (8-2), a team that visits Castilleja on Feb. 5.

The Gators are coming off an 8-0 romp over Mercy-San Francisco. Karen Dehnert and Natalie Orr each scored twice to pace the victory.

E-mail Keith Peters at


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