Six soccer teams remain in contention | February 28, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 28, 2014

Six soccer teams remain in contention

by Keith Peters

The Central Coast Section soccer playoffs are like a boxing match. Teams square off each round, trying to knock each other out.

With one round done in the 2014 section tournament, only one local squad has been counted out while six others remain in contention.

Still standing are the Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo-Atherton boys while in the girls' corner we find Palo Alto, Sacred Heart Prep, Priory and Menlo School.

Prior to last season, the SHP boys had not won a CCS game since joining the winter season in 2009. The Gators finally broke through in 2013 with not only their first playoff win, but reaching the Division III championship game for the first time and sharing it with Menlo School.

While those accomplishments proved to be milestones, Sacred Heart Prep still has one left to achieve — winning the section title outright.

The Gators took a step in that direction on a rainy Wednesday afternoon by defeating No. 7 seed Scotts Valley, 1-0, in Atherton.

The No. 10-seeded Gators (15-5-1) got the winning goal in the second half as senior Frankie Hattler took a pass from junior Derek Chou and found the back of the net in the 68th minute.

"The rain was a huge factor, but this group adjusts really well to game situations," said SHP coach Armando del Rio, who improved to 66-9-11 in just his four season. "We were excellent on the afternoon in all aspects, and played with the drive that is needed. I also want to add how impressed we were with the sportsmanship and gratitude of Scott's Valley — clean game, yet hard-fought."

Next up for Sacred Heart Prep next will be No. 2 Soledad (18-0-2) on Saturday in the quarterfinals at Rabobank Stadium in Salinas at 10 a.m.

"Soledad is undefeated and, thus, they have everything to lose," said del Rio. "I think if we play with the same fire in our belly, we will put ourselves in a good position."

In CCS Division I boys' action, host Menlo-Atherton battled to a scoreless first half before finally breaking through after intermission to register a 1-0 victory over No. 10 Santa Clara on a rainy Wednesday evening.

The No. 7-seeded Bears (12-5-2) got the deciding goal when Ethan Oro slid a pass to Mario Rodriguez, who finished. Menlo-Atherton next will face No. 2 Bellarmine (16-3-4) on Saturday in the quarterfinals at Milpitas High at noon.

For the girls, Menlo (15-3-2) was seeded No. 1 in Division III and Palo Alto (10-4-5) got the No. 2 seed in Division I. Both received byes into the quarterfinals. Menlo will face No. 9 Terra Nova (18-1) at St. Francis at noon while Paly will take on No. 10 Alisal (14-4-1) at Valley Christian at 10 a.m.

Priory and Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, had to battle their way into the weekend.

No. 12 Priory (8-9-1) advanced to the Division III quarterfinals following a 3-2 victory over No. 5 Harbor (10-5-4) in Portola Valley on a rainy Wednesday.

The Panthers found themselves down, 2-0, at the end of the first 40 minutes with what was a questionable first-half effort against Harbor. The final 40 minutes of the match were truly epic as the Panthers rallied back to win.

Freshman standout Alicia Talancon scored in the 47th minute (assisted by Margaret Shields), receiving the ball just outside the box and placing her shot to the near post and to the keeper's right. In the 52nd minute, senior captain Erin Simpson converted a free kick just outside the box, roofing her shot to beat the keeper.

The game-winner came in the 69th minute when Lexi Garrity was fouled 30 yards out, setting up another Simpson free kick. It took the best goal of the match to beat Harbor, with Simpson hitting the game-winner.

The Panthers next will face No. 13 King's Academy (10-10), the defending Division III champ and a rival of Priory in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division), on Saturday at St. Francis at 2 p.m.

Like last season, King's had to win a playoff match to reach the section tournament. The Knights advanced with a 6-1 blasting of No. 4 Santa Catalina (15-2-2).

Priory was bounced from the playoffs last season by King's Academy, 1-0, in the quarterfinals.

The No. 6 Sacred Heart Prep girls (17-2-2) got an early start to the playoffs on Tuesday and made the most of the opportunity to post a 7-0 romp over No. 11 Pacific Collegiate in Atherton.

It took only two minutes for freshman Olivia Athens and senior Alex Bourdillon to hook up for the first goal, with Bourdillon getting the tally.

Athens was involved in the next two scores, as well. She scored in the ninth minute off an assist from sophomore Tierna Davidson and added another goal, unassisted, just a minute later.

In the 12th minute, Riley Shanahan took a pass from fellow sophomore Carey Bradley and made it 4-0 before Davidson added a goal just two minutes later to send the Gators into intermission with a big lead.

Sacred Heart Prep finished things off with freshman Cameron Gordon scoring in the 50th minute and senior Maddy Jones making it 7-0 in the 76th minute after a corner kick by Blair Hamilton, who started in goal and finished on the field.

The Gators will have a much tougher test in the quarterfinals on Saturday when they visit No. 3 Burlingame (12-3-5) at 10 a.m. SHP will take on the Panthers without freshman standout Katie Harrison, who suffered a torn ACL in practice two weeks ago.

In Division I, No. 9 seed Menlo-Atherton (10-6-5) saw its season end in heartbreaking fashion with a 3-2 loss to host Santa Teresa in the opening round.

The Bears got on the board first when a ball put through by junior Amanda Wiseman found freshman forward Katie Guenin for a 1-0 lead. The Saints countered right away, however, and tied the score when senior captain Kristina Neri found the net off a corner kick for the first of her three goals.

After falling behind 2-1, M-A battled back with aggressive play mostly on the Saints' half of the field. The Bears tied the score 2-2 when a cross from sophomore midfielder Talia Missan was met by a header from Guenin that found the net.

It appeared the game was headed for overtime but, when a clear from the defense was sent back in by Santa Teresa, it was Neri again who headed the ball in for the winning goal.


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