The Menlo School girls' soccer team strengthened its hold on first place in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) with a 1-0 victory over visiting Priory on Thursday.
The Knights improved to 6-0 in league (8-2-4 overall) while the Panthers fell to 1-2-3 in league (2-4-5 overall). Menlo has outscored its league opponents,18-3, but Thursday's was a hard-fought win.
"It was a tough game," said Menlo coach Donoson FitzGerald. "Even though we struggled, and didn't play our best, they found a way to win, and that's a real tribute to the girls."
Menlo won its sixth straight and ran its unbeaten streak to nine. The Knights haven't lost since Dec. 8. Menlo has 18 points and leads second-place Sacred Heart Prep (3-1-2) by seven.
"In the first half of the league season (six games) the girls have shown that they are the best team," FitzGerald said. "It's in their hands. No one can catch us if we play well. They're in a great position in league, but we need to keep striving to be our best."
Against Priory, in the fourth minute of the second half, junior Sienna Stritter took a pass from sophomore defender Jamie Corley, took few steps, dribbling down the middle before sending the ball to the right corner from 18 yards out. Stritter has team-leading 10 goals, including seven in the past five matches.
"She's been outstanding in all areas of her game and in particular has created and scored many beautiful goals," FitzGerald said.
Freshman goalie Schuyler Tilney-Volk got her third shutout in as many starts, notching seven saves. She got a boost from defenders Alexandra Walker, Hannah Rubin and Amanda MacFarland.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton (4-3, 6-5-2) dropped into fourth place and seven points behind first-place Woodside following a 2-0 loss to the host Wildcats on Thursday.
Gunn remained perfect atop the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 39-26 dual-match victory over host Monta Vista on Thursday.
Both teams came into the match with 3-0 league marks while the Matadors were coming off a sixth-place finish at the prestigious Mid Cal Invitational at Gilroy, where the Titans finished seventh. Thus, the dual match had title implications.
Things got started at the 195-pound weight class where Gunn's Sean Lydster won by regular decision. Gunn's Harsha Mokkarala (220) then pinned his opponent, as did Eric Calderon (285). The Titans ended up winning nine of the 14 matches and emerged with a convincing win while improving to 4-0 in league (6-1 overall).
"I did not know what to expect," said Gunn head coach Chris Horpel. "The Monta Vista team is well-coached; I know their two coaches from my days as Stanford's coach. I had worked with both of them and they have brought that program up quickly in just two years.
"Every year we unfortunately return from the Mid Cals a little beat up and a little sick. I was concerned that we were in a weakened condition for our toughest dual thus far."
In Santa Clara, Palo Alto continued to battle illness and injury and suffered a 61-21 dual-match loss to host Wilcox in SCVAL De Anza Division action. Erik Anderson (182) and Jordan Gans (170) had pins to open and close the meet as the Vikings dropped to 1-2 in league duals.