Menlo, SHP boys head into first showdown after losses


The Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep boys have staged quite a soccer rivalry since they began playing each other in 2009, even though the Gators have held the upper hand.

One team or the other usually has a say in who wins the West Bay Athletic League. That still may happen this season, but that's not the case following Wednesday's opening round of league action.

Harker stunned host Sacred Heart Prep, 2-1, while host King's Academy knocked off Menlo, 2-1.

SHP knocked off Menlo to open last year's league season and now holds an 11-0-3 advantage in the series since 2009. Both teams, however, now must battle from behind -- starting with Friday's showdown between the rivals at Menlo starting at 3:30 p.m.

The Gators, who are struggling at an uncharacteristic 3-4-3, actually grabbed the lead against Harker when Juan Rascon scored off an assist from Josh Lin. The Eagles, however, followed with two unanswered goals.

In Sunnyvale, Menlo fell to King's Academy, which has been a thorn in the side of both the Knights and Gators in recent years.

King's started the game strongly and was ahead in the opening minutes after a good cross played their forward in on goal. Menlo (4-3 overall, 0-1 in league) had some good chances to equalize, but was stifled by the King's defense and some strong play in goal.

King's doubled its lead right before halftime on another cross to the back post. Menlo pushed hard to get back into the game and pulled a goal back through senior forward Will Chisholm with 10 minutes left to play, but the visiting Knights ultimately were unable to find the equalizer.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto remained unbeaten with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over host Los Gatos to open divisional play.

After a scoreless first half, the Vikings (1-0, 6-0-1) got the winning goal at the 21:00 mark when junior Jack Stoksik hit a low line drive from 30 yards out that just eluded the Los Gatos keeper. Paly has several more opportunities to score but could not convert.

Palo Alto played a tough first half and had several chances to score, but two tallies were called back for offsides. The Vikings' defense, meanwhile, was solid while holding the Wildcats to just two shots on goal -- both saved by senior keeper Eli Friedlander.

Senior Reuben Kramer and junior Neil Verwillow were solid at center back while junior Brian Tracy and senior Declan Cassini kept Los Gatos away from the goal from their outside back spots. Seniors Dami Bolarinwa and Roberto Sotelo had very good efforts helping out defensively while setting up offensive threats.

Palo Alto will host Homestead on Friday (3:30 p.m.) in a battle between last season's top two teams in the De Anza Division.

In another SCVAL De Anza Division opener, Gunn fell to visiting Mountain View, 1-0.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton blanked visiting Half Moon Bay, 5-0, to open league play. No scoring was provided.

Girls soccer

Palo Alto remained undefeated and registered its fourth straight shutout while opening its SCVAL De Anza Division season with a 3-0 blanking of visiting Los Gatos on Wednesday.

The Vikings (1-0-, 6-0) got the eventual winning goal in the first half off an unassisted tally from senior Jacey Pederson. Paly widened its lead after intermission as junior Natalie Maloney scored off an assist from sophomore Emily Tomz and senior Alison Lu found the net with senior Nika Woodfill assisting. The Vikings now have outscored the opposition, 20-2, this season.

In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn won a hard-fought 1-0 decision against visiting Los Altos to open division action.

After 79 scoreless minutes in an evenly played contest, it seemed as if the game was going to end in a tie. However, the Titans (1-0, 3-3) scored in the final minute as freshman center midfielder Hailey Leclerc got the ball deep in the Los Altos side of the field, went through the middle and found the back of the net for the game-winner.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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