Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 18, 2011

Paly boys, Gunn girls play waiting game in with other teams already in CCS soccer

by Keith Peters

Armando del Rio and Jake Moffat don't have to be too concerned about Saturday's seeding meeting for next week's Central Coast Section soccer playoffs. Both of their Sacred Heart Prep teams have won league titles and earned postseason berths.

Henry Arredondo of Priory is in a similar situation with his girls' team, which finished second to SHP in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) also also secured an automatic playoff berth.

And Menlo-Atherton boys' coach Jacob Pickard can look forward to what seed his team will get after it wrapped up a co-championship in the PAL Bay Division.

That luxury, however, does not fall on Paly boys' coach Don Briggs or Gunn girls' coach Damian Cohen. After playing 90 minutes on Wednesday, they had to wait a little more than 48 hours to find out if they'll still be playing next week.

That's the fate of the Palo Alto boys' and Gunn girls' soccer teams, who finished their respective SCVAL De Anza Division seasons with different results.

Palo Alto finished with a downer, a 3-1 loss to first-place Mountain View on the Vikings' field. Gunn finished on an upper, knocking first-place Los Gatos into second with a 2-1 upset victory on the Wildcats' field.

The Vikings (4-1-7, 8-3-8), who could have finished second and earned an automatic berth into the Central Coast Section playoffs with a tie, instead wound up in fourth. The Titans (4-5-3, 9-6-5) couldn't move up in the standings with a victory, but absolutely needed one.

Both teams now must wait to discover their postseason fates when the CCS seeding committee selects the fields Saturday. The only way in for Paly and Gunn would be at-large berths.

Briggs was hoping for at least a tie on Wednesday, but believes his team's chances are still 50-50 of getting in.

"I've been told we're in," Briggs said, noting the Vikings' 32 points in league play plus some bonus points should be enough.

Briggs also has to wait to find out if standout defender Gerrit van Zyll will be available for the postseason, if there is one. The junior got a red card very late in the match after saying something that an official overheard. Depending on how the violation is written up, van Zyll may or may not be available for Paly's CCS opener should the Vikings advance.

"We're already so slim (on players)," said Briggs, whose depleted lineup due to injuries reflects the team's seven ties in league play. The Vikings went through a stretch of five straight ties in the second half of the season, needing only one victory during that time to earn a CCS berth.

On Wednesday, Zac Hummel's goal gave Paly a 1-1 halftime tie with Mountain View (10-0-2), but the Spartans got the eventual winner in the 52nd minute when Mackie Kelly launched a long free kick from in front of the Spartans' bench and teammate Minh Wilson got a foot on it, directing it over the reach of Paly keeper Austin Shiau.

While Paly was falling to a league champ, the Gunn girls were making sure Los Gatos would not defend its title.

The Titans took the lead in the first half on a through ball by Sarah Robinson to Haleli Moalem, who leaped a sliding player and slotted the goal.

Gunn scored the winner in the second half with Caroline Anderson sent a cross in front of the goal and Robinson half-volleyed it into the back of the net.

"Los Gatos has only given up eight goals all season (preseason and league," said Cohen. "Thus, this was an impressive close for us."

Of Gunn's six losses, three were to league champ Mountain View — all one-goal decisions. Should the Titans advance to the CCS playoffs, it will mark the first time in school history from the De Anza Division. Gunn previously has qualified as the El Camino Division champion.

The Titans scored at least 25 goals more than they did last season and should remain in the De Anza Division for a third straight season, the longest stretch in school history for the team.

In another De Anza Division girls' finale, Palo Alto closed out its disappointing season with a 0-0 deadlock with host Mountain View, which earned the division crown thanks to Gunn's victory over erstwhile leader Los Gatos. Paly finished 2-7-3 in league (5-11-3 overall) and will miss the CCS playoffs for the first time since 2000.

In another De Anza Division boys' finale, Gunn (3-6-3, 4-10-5) apparently will remain in the division following a 2-0 victory over visiting Los Gatos on Wednesday. Mason Naar and Daniel Tirosh (penalty kick) provided first-half goals for the Titans while Sammy Hayward did a good job defensively on sweeping away potential Los Gatos scoring threats.

In the West Bay Athletic League:

An unbeaten season came to an end for the Sacred Heart Prep boys' soccer team, which dropped a 3-2 decision to host King's Academy on a soggy field on Wednesday. The Gators (11-1-1, 16-1-1), who wrapped up the league title last Friday, knew they would be in for a battle on the small field in Sunnyvale. King's took a shocking 3-0 halftime lead before Alec Mishra scored an unassisted goal and Joseph Bolous added another off an assist from Jack Odell. Sacred Heart Prep, which is going through Spirit Week, just was too flat in a game that meant nothing in the league standings.

SHP wrapped up the title last Friday with an 8-0 win over Eastside Prep.

In Portola Valley, host Priory wrapped up no worse than a second-place tie in the WBAL with a 7-0 victory over visiting Eastside Prep on Wednesday. In front of family and friends on Senior Day, the Panthers' senior leadership led to the first five goals as Evan Filipczyk scored three goals and Guillermo Talancon added two. Priory (10-3, 11-5-4) needs a win or a tie over host Harker on Friday to earn the Panthers' first-ever berth into the CCS playoffs. Priory has 30 points with King's Academy third with 27.

Elsewhere, Menlo School (6-54-2, 6-7-3) and Harker played to a 1-1 deadlock while Crystal Springs handed Pinewood a 4-1 loss.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton earned a co-championship with Burlingame following a 6-0 victory over host Westmoor on Wednesday. Philip Witham scored three goals to pace the Bears (11-2-1, 13-3-2), who grabbed a 3-0 halftime lead. Aaron Oro, Francisco Sanchez and Thomas Kaheli also scored for M-A. Burlingame (11-2-1, 14-2-2) finished the regular season with a 4-1 win over Terra Nova.

In the girls' WBAL race:

Sacred Heart Prep put the finishing touches on an unbeaten season in the WBAL Foothill Division with a 1-0 victory over visiting Menlo School on Tuesday. The Gators (9-0-1, 13-4-3) got the winning goal early in the second half from Francesca Surraco, off an assist from fellow senior Kendall Cody — both playing in the final home game.

Sacred Heart Prep, which wrapped up the title last week with a 1-0 win at Priory, now advances to the CCS for the third straight season as the league's No. 1 seed.

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