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by Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
Lightning did strike more than once as the Sacred Heart Prep girls'soccer team scored twice and withstood a lightning delay to hold off rival Menlo School, 2-0, in a key West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) showdown on a rainy, stormy Tuesday afternoon in Atherton.
The defending champion Gators grabbed control of the division race at 3-0 (9-3-1 overall) while the Knights (1-1-1, 7-2-2) suffered their first loss to SHP in league play in two years. Menlo tied Sacred Heart in both of their WBAL matches last season. The Gators did end the Knights' 2009 season in the CCS quarterfinals.
The teams played about six minutes before lightning struck, forcing SHP Athletic Director Frank Rodriguez to pull the players from the field in a precautionary move.
Following a brief eight-minute delay due to to the inclement conditions, which included thunder and heavy rain, the teams returned to the field. The Gators didn't take long to put up a score as Lizzy Weisman lofted a corner kick over the reach of Menlo freshman keeper Julia Dressel. SHP's Nicole Quilliam got a foot on it and knocked it off the crossbar. The rebound went to SHP freshman Kendall Jager, who headed it in with about 19:20 left to play in the half.
Sacred Heart took that lead into halftime. The teams battled fairly evenly in the second half despite the on and off rainy weather. With under 12 minutes to play, Weisman again got involved and got a pass to junior Geena Graumann, who found the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Sacred Heart defenders Caroline Moe, Sophia Abuel-Saud, Lauren Espeseth and sweeper Stephanie Terpening all were standouts while shutting down a high-scoring Menlo offense of Katie Baum, Nicole Fasola, Kelly Cavan and Mila Sheeline, among others.
In another important WBAL (Foothill Division) match played in often torrential conditions, Priory bounced back from its big loss to Sacred Heart Prep last Thursday to knock Castilleja out of a share for first place with a 5-0 triumph at the Mayfield Soccer Complex.
The Panthers (2-1-1, 4-5-5) perhaps drew a defining line between the league contenders and pretenders with the dominating victory over Castilleja (2-1, 5-2), leaving SHP, Menlo and Priory as the clear favorites for league honors this season.
Junior Massiel Castellanos scored two first-half goals and would have had a third, in the second half, but was called for offsides. The first goal came in the fifth minute and the second, with help from a defender who slipped on the slick artificial grass, came 30 minutes later.
With about four minutes gone in the second half, senior Lauren Allen passed to sophomore Darrah Shields, who finished for a 3-0 lead. Junior Alex Schnabel, who had been sidelined with a leg injury for a number of weeks, provided an offensive boost when she scored in the 55th minute and again in the 69th minute following a nice run through the defense by Castellanos.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto (2-2, 5-4-1) overcame the bad weather and visiting Los Altos to post a 3-0 victory on the Vikings' field.
Following a scoreless first half, Paly seniors Erika Hoglund and Kelly Jenks teamed up for what proved to be the winning goal. Hoglund broke free in the penalty box and, after passing up a shot, slid a pass to Jenks, who put the ball low and into the net in the 47th minute.
Just seven minutes later, Jenks juked a defender and fed the ball to sophomore Marina Foley, who worked herself past the goalie and a defender and finished for a 2-0 advantage. In the 75th minute, junior Gracie Marshall passed the ball to a wide-open Sophie Cain, and the senior midfielder lofted a 34-yard left-footed shot into the far back corner of the cage -- just over the reach of the keeper.
The match nearly was called off before it started due to the lightning that delayed the Sacred Heart Prep-Menlo game, which started 30 minutes earlier. The bad weather conditions nonetheless hindered both offenses as Paly outshot Los Altos by just 9-5. Paly defender Hannah Ohlson was a standout for the Vikings.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton dropped to fourth place following a 5-1 loss at first-place Woodside on Tuesday in a match played in often horrendous weather conditions. The Wildcats (5-0) scored three times in the first half and twice more in the second before the Bears (2-2-1, 6-3-2) got a goal from sophomore Jennifer Kirst in the second half to end the shutout.