In the spirit of the moment, SHP defends a title

Gators win second straight league soccer crown with 2-0 win over Castilleja

Members of the Sacred Heart Prep girls' soccer team prepared to defend their West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) title in the most unusual way on Thursday.

For starters, there was a dodge ball game and then a scavenger hunt.

"My girls are all in these events," said Sacred Heart Prep coach Jake Moffat, trying to describe the zaniness of the school's Spirit Week. "Tonight, there's a Rock-Jock basketball game. The whole ride over here today the girls were talking about all the activities."

Spirit Week at Sacred Heart Prep pretty much shuts down the learning process. While classes are in session, the students' focus tends to be on the week-long activities.

Somehow, Moffat was able to get his girls to focus on the task at hand on Thursday -- to win a second straight league championship. The Gators did just that, scoring twice in the second half for a 2-0 victory over stubborn Castilleja at the Mayfield Soccer Complex.

Senior Lizzy Weisman provided the eventual game-winner when she broke free from a handful of defenders (after taking a pass from Christie Byrne) and fired a shot past Castilleja keeper Allie May. A short while later, freshman Kendall Jager followed suit after getting a pass from Sophia Abuel-Saud.

The victory moved Sacred Heart Prep to 8-1-1 in league (13-4-3 overall) and likely earned the Gators a bye in the upcoming Central Coast Section Division III playoffs, where they are the defending champions.

Moffat was relieved when the match was over, partially due to the distractions of Spirit Week and the fact that a loss would have given the title to Priory.

"I was only concerned because games you should win and have to win are my least favorite to coach," Moffat said. "I would have been nice to clinch it last week, but we did what we needed to do . . . I said treat this like a championship game, which it was."

Castilleja (3-6-1, 8-7-1) played the defending champs tough, especially in the first half. Sacred Heart Prep had a few opportunities, especially on corner kicks that bounced around in front of the Castilleja goal before being cleared.

The longer the match remained scoreless, the more dangerous Castilleja became. The Palo Alto Gators had players like Emily Mosbacher, Emily Colvin, Caitlin Colvin, Amy Toig and Martha Harding to get the job done, but the Atherton Gators matched up even better and provided an even tougher defense.

Castilleja did prevent SHP junior Abby Dahlkemper from scoring, which is a task in itself. Dahlkemper just returned from Florida on the weekend where she had been training with the U.S. Under-17 National Team.

"Abby was tired," Moffat said. "She had a busy week."

All the Sacred Heart Prep players were probably tired when they walked off the field Thursday. Not too tired, however, to play in the Rock-Jock basketball that night.

In Portola Valley, host Priory closed out the regular season in second place with a 2-0 victory over Mercy-Burlingame on Thursday. The Panthers (7-1-2, 9-5-6) didn't allow a single shot while producing an attempt on nearly every possession.

Priory finally broke through to start the second half on a superb shot from outside the box from Adriana Cortes, assisted by fellow senior Massiel Castellanos. Later in the half, Sarah Zuckerman crossed a perfect ball to Castellanos, who brought it down, and half-volleyed it into the corner for the 2-0 finale.

In another WBAL match, Menlo School closed out its regular season by defeating host Notre Dame San Jose, 4-1. The Knights (6-1-3, 12-2-4) jumped ahead in the fourth minute on a 15 yard blast by senior Mila Sheeline. Notre Dame tied it up 10 minutes before halftime.

Menlo came on strong in the second half as Sheeeline connected again with nine minutes gone off a nice through ball from sophomore Elle Laub. At the 20-minute mark, senior Nicole Fasola scored from eight yards out after a good set-up from junior Kelly Cavan. Sophomore Elyse Adler scored on a 15-yard shot inside the near post on an assist from sophomore Sophie Sheeline at the 30-minute mark to cap the scoring.

Menlo finished third in the WBAL Foothill division and will play WBAL Skyline Division champion Kings Academy on Friday in a playoff game at Skyline College at 3:30 pm . The winner earns an automatic bid to the CCS playoffs.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto kept its hope alive for an automatic CCS berth with a 1-0 victory over host Los Altos on Thursday. The Vikings improved to 5-5-1 in league (8-7-2 overall) after the crucial triumph over the Eagles (0-9-3, 3-12-4).

Palo Alto was awarded a free kick from the 45-yard line in the 55th minute, with Hannah Ohlson lofting a perfect long ball. A Los Altos defender got her head on it, but set it back towards the Eagles' keeper. Paly's Marina Foley went up with the keeper and headed the ball into the goal for the deciding score.

In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton dropped a 3-0 decision to first-place Woodside on Thursday. The Bears (5-6-1, 9-7-2) missed leading scorer Jennifer Kirst, who is out for the season.

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