Soccer season kicking into high gear | January 6, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - January 6, 2017

Soccer season kicking into high gear

Several local teams ranked among the best in CCS

by Glenn Reeves

After a holiday lull, the high school soccer season returns to forefront with league openers and upcoming quality nonleague matches heading the bill.

Things came together for Sacred Heart Prep following an unlucky own goal that gave host Gunn a lead in the second half.

The Gators, though, maintained their composure to earn a 3-2 nonleague victory over the Titans on Wednesday.

The Gators (5-2) host Palo Alto (5-0) at 11 a.m. Saturday in a contest that features two of the top teams in the Central Coast Section.

Cam Gordon recorded a pair of goals and an assist for Sacred Heart Prep. She scored twice in the final 20 minutes to lift the Gators, getting assists from Sasha Bellack and Isabelle Jordan.

Gordon assisted on Lindsey Johnson's goal in the eighth minute.

Natalie Hill scored the equalizer for the Titans (1-5-1).

Menlo played host Sequoia to a 1-1 draw in other nonleague action Wednesday. The Knights move to 3-1-1, and play at Menlo-Atherton (0-3-1) on the road at 3:30 pm Friday.

The Bears' record is misleading. They've played as difficult a schedule as anyone in the section. Their tie was with Mountain View, giving the Spartans (8-0-1) their only blemish on the season. Diane Morales scored one the three goals allowed by Mountain View. One of M-A's losses was at Paly.

The four teams the Bears played are a combined 24-2-8 through Wednesday, and have outscored opponents, 105-10.

Menlo and the Cherokees played through a scoreless first half. Five minutes into the second half, senior Cleo King scored, unassisted.

Sequoia (3-1-3) scored minutes later, firing a follow-up shot after a great Menlo deflection.

The Knights held off Sequoia the rest of the way, with freshman Talia Grossman manning the goal in another standout effort.

Hill, a two-time all-league selection, scored twice and Hailey Leclerc and Lucy Augustine also scored as Gunn beat host Wilcox, 4-2, on a rainy Tuesday night to open the SCVAL El Camino Division schedule.

Boys' soccer

Menlo School opened West Bay Athletic League boys' soccer play with a 2-1 victory over host Crystal Springs Uplands on Wednesday.

Sacred Heart Prep also opened its league schedule on the road, beating The King's Academy, 2-1.

The Gators (1-0, 3-3-1) play at Pinewood at 3:30 p.m. Friday and Menlo (1-0, 5-1-1) hosts The King's Academy (0-1, 4-2-2) at 2:45 p.m.

Eastside College Prep, which was scheduled to host Priory on Wednesday, travels to Crystal Springs Uplands for a league match at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The Panthers were undefeated entering the game against Priory.

The Knights won their fourth in a row after overcoming a 1-0 deficit. The Gryphons (0-1, 5-2) struck first in the 20th minute.

Menlo evened the score just before halftime as junior midfielder Marc Velten served a dangerous ball into the box off a free kick and junior winger Billy Hamilton was first to the loose ball, finishing emphatically.

The game was wide open in the second half, with both teams creating chances for the go-ahead score. Velten took advantage of a chance in the 65th minute for Menlo, retrieving a bouncing ball and hammering it into the top of the net from 35 yards.

The Knights had to withstand some pressure from Crystal in the closing minutes but held on to its lead.

"The boys showed a lot of heart and determination today battling a tough Crystal team in difficult weather conditions on a tough field," Menlo coach Marc Kerrest said. "We have a deep team this year and it's great to see two guys come off the bench and make the most of their opportunities, helping lift the team by contributing the goals."

Sacred Heart Prep played a similar game, taking an early lead on a goal from Brian Pica, with an assist from Stefan Schlotter. The Gators took the 1-nil edge into halftime.

The King's Academy, however, knotted the contest before Gators team captain Connor Johnston put the ball past the threshold, from an assist from Peter Love.

Boys' basketball

Menlo-Atherton (6-3) needed a third-quarter rally Wednesday to beat host Jefferson, 55-41, in a nonleague game.

The Grizzlies (5-6) took their only lead of the game at 31-30 late in third quarter. The Bears responded by scoring the final five points of the period and the first four of the fourth quarter.

M-A, on a three-game winning streak, hosts Half Moon Bay (5-4) at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Riley Woodson helped Menlo School record a sizable advantage in rebounding that went a long way in a 50-38 victory over host Priory as the West Bay Athletic League schedule got underway Tuesday.

Woodson matched Thomas Brown with 16 points to share game-high honors and added 14 rebounds for Menlo (1-0, 4-4), which had a 39-27 edge on the boards. Brown grabbed an additional nine.

That's no mean feat considering the Panthers (0-1, 8-3) feature a couple of active big men in their own right.

Lucas Harris led Priory, which had its four-game winning streak snapped, with 11 points, seven coming in the first quarter. Ayo Aderoboye added a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks and Nico Arslander's no-look, behind-the-back pass that resulted in a Harris layup was about as pretty as they come.

In other WBAL openers, Sacred Heart Prep downed host Harker, 53-36, rallying from a first-half deficit.

Kyle Stalder and Tevin Panchal helped the Gators (1-0, 3-6) outscore the Eagles (0-1, 5-6), 32-12, in the second half.

Stalder set the pace with 17 points and Panchal added 14 as Sacred Heart Prep looks to extend its winning streak when it meets host Pinewood at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

The Panthers (1-0, 7-3) dumped host Crystal Springs Upland (0-1, 2-6), 88-49, and Eastside College Prep (0-1, 7-2) lost to visiting TKA, 50-47.

Palo Alto got off to a good start in SCVAL play but Gunn wasn't as lucky.

The Vikings beat Milpitas, 58-43, at Gunn while the Titans lost, 67-56, at Wilcox.

Palo Alto (1-0, 9-2) and Gunn (0-1, 9-3) meet Friday at 7:45 p.m. at Gunn.

Max Dorward scored eight of his game-high 18 points in the first quarter as he combined with fellow junior Jared Wulbrun for 17 first-quarter points. Wulbrun, who finished with 11 points, hit three 3-pointers in the period.

Gunn was led by Jeffrey Lee-Heidenreich, who scored 19 points. David Clarke added 12 and Josh Radin had 11.

Girls basketball

Eastside College Prep held one shootaround in the five days following a brutal three-day Coaches vs. Cancer tournament run last week.

The Panthers (9-4) beat visiting Presentation-San Jose (11-2), 37-32, though coach Donovan Blythe was not too happy and put his team through a practice, in full uniform, immediately afterward.

It was the first day back from the holiday break and both teams struggled with their shooting, their rebounding, their ballhanding ... well, with everything.

"We're ready for league. We had three brutal games but I'm not going to use that as an excuse," Blythe said. "They should be able to play. Presentation came out and played hard. They're in a league (WCAL) where you have to play hard or else. This team has got to understand that."

Eastside has one more nonleague game, against Antelope at the Miramonte Elite Showcase, Saturday before tipping off the West Bay Athletic League schedule with a high-profile meeting at Pinewood (10-2) on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

Pinewood is also playing at Miramonte, meeting Notre Dame-St. Joesph's.

In another nonleague contest, Menlo fell to Salesian, 62-55. The Knights (7-4) host Woodside at 6 p.m. Friday.

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