A dramatic finish to M-A's perfect girls' soccer season

Josephine Cotto, who usually distributes the ball, turned goal-scorer in the nick of time, taking a pass from Olivia Shane and shooting from the top of the box into the corner of the net in the final minute of play.

That gave the Menlo-Atherton girls' soccer team a dramatic 2-1 victory over host Woodside in the regular-season finale Thursday and a perfect ending to a perfect PAL Bay Division season.

The Bears (15-3-1, 14-0) are headed to the Central Coast Section Open Division playoff, which begins Saturday, Feb. 25. The CCS seeding meeting is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.

M-A, which finished second to the defending CCS Open champion Wildcats (10-7-3, 10-3-1) last year, will likely get a rematch against Mitty or Palo Alto, two of the three teams that beat the Bears at the beginning of the season.

Woodside, which also started the season slow against top competition, has put together a season worthy of the Open Division but which will likely end up in Division I.

The Wildcats opened this season 0-4-1, dropping matches to Palo Alto, Menlo School, Mountain View and Sacred Heart Prep, all teams that either won their league title or placed second.

Woodside, which finished second this season, suffered one loss last year and that came in the regular-season finale against Menlo-Atherton, which went on to win the CCS Division I title.

The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead Thursday, scoring early and putting the pressure on the Bears.

Alissa McNerney tied the game before halftime, converting on a free kick just outside the penalty box. She sent it into the upper reaches of the net.

Both teams had chances in the second half, with Katie Guenin and Diana Morales, the Bears' top two scorers, just missing.

M-A goalkeeper Breanna Sandoval and defender Alison Galbraith were instrumental in keeping the match tied until Cotto delivered the game winner.

Cotto leads the team with 12 assists but it took her ninth goal to assure the Bears finished unbeaten and untied in league play for the first time in program history.

Mountain View got straight to the point in its final regular-season contest. Needing a win to overtake the Vikings (14-0-4, 8-0-4) for the SCVAL De Anza Division, the Spartans (16-1-3, 9-1-2) did just that, scoring two early goals en route to a 5-0 victory over host Los Gatos on Thursday.

While Palo Alto was regulated to second, a win over a pair of league champions should be more than enough to assure it of a place in the Open Division.

Part of the Vikings' motivation this year was a result of getting eliminated in the first round of last year's Open playoffs by Mitty on penalty kicks.

Gunn 2, Wilcox 0

With 13 players on the varsity roster who are sophomores, it was fitting that a number of them played critical roles for Gunn to close out SCVAL El Camino Division play at home as the Titans cruised to a 2-0 victory over visiting Wilcox.

Sophomore Hailey Leclerc, starting in her 39th straight game at center midfield, dating to the beginning of her freshman season, sparked the Titans with a goal from about 25 yards out for an early lead.

Sophomore Lily Jose matched her fellow classmate by scoring a header goal, following up on a shot by sophomore Solene Bonnet that went off of the crossbar.

Jose’s goal and assist gives her 11 points in her debut varsity season, third on the team in points.

With the early lead, the Titans defense took over and secured the win. Strong goaltending by sophomore Eliana Roodman and an overall defensive effort helped keep the Chargers out of the net.

The Titans (12-6-2, 10-1-1) wait for a CCS playoff bid as the second-place team in the division. If Gunn receives a bid, which is expected, the Titans will have secured their third consecutive trip to the CCS playoffs (2015-2017) for the fourth time in school history; the last happening between 1996-2000 when the Titans lost in the CCS championship game in both 1997 and 1999.

Boys soccer

Menlo School wrapped up West Bay Athletic League play with a 9-0 victory over Priory on the road Thursday.

The league champion Knights finish the season with a 9-0-3 league mark and a six-point lead over second-place Sacred Heart Prep. The Central Coast Section postseason matchup will be announced Saturday.

Against Priory, sophomore Ben Lasky, freshmen Aaron Morgan and Alex Morgan each had a pair of goals. Juniors Grant Dumanian and Alistair Shaw each contributed a goal and assist, and senior Zeke Coxe added a goal.

Sophomore Jonny Ebrahimian pitched in with two assists. Seniors Nolan Peterson and Kenneth McNelly and juniors Billy Hamilton and Marc Velten-Lomelin added assists.

Sacred Heart Prep (10-7-2, 8-4) beat host Crystal Springs Uplands on Thursday to secure its berth in the CCS playoffs.

Gunn edged Wilcox, 1-0, to finish the SCVAL season with a 7-3-2 mark (10-6-3 overall).


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