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Menlo girls grab important WBAL soccer win (with photos)

Knights move into a tie for second place after 2-1 victory over Castilleja

Click on pictures to enlarge and view captions.

by Keith Peters

Palo Alto Online Sports

After suffering a tough loss earlier in the week to first-place Sacred Heart Prep, the Menlo girls' soccer team knew it had to bounce back quickly or otherwise fall further behind in the competitive West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) race.

While the Knights didn't start off in the right direction in Thursday's match against host Castilleja, they turned things around in time to grab an important 2-1 victory on a cold, rainy day at the Mayfield Soccer Complex. Menlo improved to 2-1-1 in league (8-2-2 overall) to tie Priory for second place. Both teams, however, trail SHP by five points. Castilleja dropped to 2-2 in league (5-3 overall) and faces a tough match on Tuesday at Sacred Heart.

On a drizzly, cold day and playing on a slick, wet surface that affected play, host Castilleja took the lead midway through the first half on a hard near-post shot by sophomore Caitlin Colvin that beat Menlo freshman keeper Julia Dressel. That goal stood up for a 1-0 halftime lead.

Menlo struck back in the second minute of the second half when senior Katie Baum connected from close range off a pass from senior Elitah Petty. At the 20-minute mark, Baum scored again from 18 yards out on a high shot to the far post off an assist from senior Nicole Fasola.

The two teams created scoring chances on both ends of the sloppy field before the match concluded on a corner kick by Castilleja sophomore Caitlin Colvin. Teammate Emily Mosbacher got a head on it, but couldn't find the cage. The ball eventually landed in front of the goal before the Knights eventually cleared it to preserve the victory. Menlo outshot Castilleja by only 11-9.

Menlo's effort was led by defenders Shannon Lacy, Frannie McCarthy, Dana Gornick, and midfielders Kelly Cavan and Maya Norman. Castilleja got solid play from Emily Colvin, Amy Toig, Martha Harding, plus freshmen Katherine Hobbs, Charlotte Geaghan-Breiner and Mandy Stephens, among others.

At Skyline College in San Bruno, first-place Sacred Heart Prep grabbed a one-goal lead at halftime before rolling to a 6-0 victory over Mercy-Burlingame. The Gators improved to 4-0 in league for 12 points (10-3-1 overall).

SHP senior Lizzy Weisman provided the needed scoring as she provided the eventual winning goal in the fourth minute off an assist from junior Abby Dahlkemper. Just two minutes into the second half, Weisman scored again as junior Nicole Quilliam assisted. Dahlkemper scored the next two goals, just seven minutes apart, with Weisman and freshman Kendall Jager assisting. Senior Caroline Moe and Dahlkemper finished the scoring with Jager and Sophia Abuel-Saud adding assists.

In a SCVAL De Anza Division match, Palo Alto fell further behind in the race following a 3-0 loss to host Mountain View. The Vikings are now 2-3 in league (5-5-1 overall).

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton got a second-half goal from Jennifer Kirst and it held up for a 1-0 victory over visiting Hillsdale. Vanessa Renkel assisted on the goal for the Bears, who improved to 3-2-1 in league (7-3-2 overall) and now have 10 points. Woodside (5-0) remains in first with 15 points.

Boys' soccer

After Palo Alto suffered its first loss in 20 league games (over the past three years) to Los Altos on Tuesday, it was going to be interesting to see how the boys' soccer team would fare against a very tough Mountain View team on Thursday in a key SCVAL De Anza Division match. As it turned out, the Vikings rebounded well with a 1-0 victory on a drizzly day.

In the middle of the second half, Paly senior Spencer Sims took a pass from senior Jenner Fox pass and, taking on two Mountain View defenders, pushed a low shot past the diving Spartans' keeper for the winning score. It was one of the few opportunities that Paly (3-1-1, 6-3-4) had on another rainy afternoon. The slick, wet surface seemed to affect Paly more than the very quick Mountain View.

The Spartans (2-2, 7-3-2) had a number of opportunities to score in the first half and controlled a good part of the half. They continued to control the pace during much of the second half while Paly senior keeper Scott Alexander made a couple of nice saves and Sammy Greene made two opportunistic clears to keep Paly in the game.

Fortunately for Palo Alto, its defense of Austin Smith, Nittai Malchin, Grant Shorin and Peter Laminette) played just well enough to clear most of the crosses and stop most of the shots on goal to set up Sims' game-winning goal. After that, Paly went into a more defensive posture for the final 20 minutes as Mountain View continued to attack.

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