by Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
Matt Dodge and his Sacred Heart Prep boys' soccer team has a list of specific goals for the season, one of which was achieved Wednesday.
The Gators handed visiting Eastside Prep a 3-0 loss in West Bay Athletic League action, a victory that clinched the league championship. Sacred Heart Prep is 11-0 in league (13-3 overall) for 33 points and just three matches remaining.
"We want to go undefeated (in league) and win CCS," Dodge said after the victory. "That is our main goal. I think we have the team to do it."
It's doubtful any team in the WBAL would argue this season. The Gators are riding an 11-game winning streak, all in league play, and haven't really be threatened.
"This was just another day for these guys," Dodge said of his team's latest victory. "They came out and were relaxed and loose. But, once the whistle blew, they were all GO! A few of the players knew (about the title) after the game, but we did not make a big deal of it."
That's because bigger goals are ahead.
The Gators wrapped up the league title and distanced themselves from second-place Priory and Menlo, both of whom have 19 points. Priory has four matches left, but can finish with only 31 should the Panthers sweep.
The Gators got their first, and eventual winning goal, from freshman Joseph Bolous off an assist from Brendan Spillane at the 10-minute mark of the first half. In the second half, Bolous made it 2-0 on an unassisted goal while Kyle Schebra converted a penalty kick at the 60-minute mark to close the scoring.
Also in Atherton, Menlo remained tied for second place in the WBAL following a 3-2 victory over last-place Crystal Springs on Wednesday in Atherton. The Knights (6-4-1, 8-7-1) got rolling with freshman Max Parker scoring in the 20th minute off an assist from his brother, junior Sam Parker. Max continued to make his presence felt by assisting on Vikram Padval's diving header in the 29th minute.
After Crysal Springs battled back to to draw even at 2 on an own goal, Menlo got the winning goal in the 65th minute when Lucas Keyt assisted on Lowry Yankwich's decider. Other key contributors to Menlo's win were defensive midfielder Jackson Badger, striker Spike Lufkin and center back Henry Bard.
In Sunnyvale, Priory lost an opportunity to keep its possible league title hopes alive following a 0-0 draw with host King's Academy. Had the Panthers (6-3-1, 6-5-1) been able to win, they would have prevented first-place Sacred Heart Prep from clinching the league title on Wednesday. Now, despite having four matches remaining, the best Priory can do is finish in second place.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division on Tuesday, another round of action left nothing decided. But, the league got a lot tighter with the top four teams only separated by just two points. Palo Alto and Gunn were among that group -- heading into their showdown on Thursday afternoon.
The fourth-place Titans (4-3-1, 5-8-2) needed a victory over the second-place Vikings (4-1-2, 7-3-5) to continue the drama in the division. More important, the league title and an automatic berth (and high seed) into the CCS playoffs continue to be on the line. Then there's the usual bragging rights between the local rivals, which always makes for a heated battle.
Both teams already have been in first place at one time this season, but neither lasted very long. Gunn, in fact, resided there twice in the past two weeks, but always followed up an important victory with a frustrating loss or tie.
In fact, the Titans have won back-to-back matches only once this season, to open the division schedule.
Palo Alto also has found difficulty in putting together two solid efforts back to back. The Vikings also have only once won consecutive matches in league play and have a high of three straight wins after opening the year 0-1-3.
Palo Alto, however, took some momentum into Thursday's match after moving back into a second-place tie in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 2-0 victory at last-place Monta Vista on Tuesday. The Vikings took 14 points into Thursday's showdown, just one point behind first-place Mountain View.
Paly had to deal with the elements and Monta Vista on Tuesday. It started raining just before the start of the match and the grass field remained fairly playable for the first 20 minutes before quickly getting slick.
For Paly, all the scoring took place in the first 10 minutes. Senior Ethan Plank scored the first goal (unassisted) off a direct kick from 10 yards outside the top of the box. The Vikings made it 2-0 when sophomore Kris Hoglund took a pass from senior John Anderton and placed it past the diving keeper.
As the field conditions continued to deteriorate, Paly had several more opportunities, including two shots off the post. Monta Vista (1-5-1, 6-7-2) had two close chances but Paly keeper Austin Shiau made two nice saves, including the stopping of a penalty kick with 10 minutes remaining. Paly had a good solid effort backed up by Shiau, John Richardson and Jenner Fox.
At Gunn, Milpitas seemed comfortable on the road with an early strike off a throw-in the first minute of play. The Titans answered in the 30th minute with a passing combination of Scott Baer to Paul Morimoto, who found sophomore Sammy Hayward inside the box for a left-footed shot under the keeper for a 1-1 final result.
Defensively, Gunn seniors Michael Starr and Konrad Guzinski kept Milpitas from countering while the offense utilized a possession style. Milpitas moved to 2-4-2 (6-8-2). Gunn took 13 points into Thursday's match.