The second season of prep soccer gets under way this week, but only the best – or fortunate – will be playing when the Central Coast Section playoffs begin.
Eight local teams – four boys and four girls –will begin a potential two-week run that could culminate in a section championship on March 6.
Among the fortunate are the Palo Alto girls. The Vikings were a mediocre fourth place in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 5-6-1 record (8-8-2 overall). Yet, the 2009 CCS Division I finalist will have a shot at returning to the finals after receiving the No. 9 seed at Saturday's seeding meeting.
Palo Alto will open its postseason hopes on the road at No. 8 Watsonville on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Should the Vikings advance to the quarterfinals on Feb. 27, they'll face top-seeded Woodside (17-0-3).
In the girls' Division III bracket, the local area will be represented by Sacred Heart Prep, Priory and Menlo School. All three finished in that order in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) this season.
Sacred Heart Prep (13-4-3) received a No. 4 seed and a first-round bye after winning its second straight league title. The Gators will face the winner of No. 5 Harbor (9-4-5) and No. 12 Gonzales (10-5-1) on Feb. 27. Awaiting the defending section champion Gators in the semifinals, however, could be No. 1-seeded Scotts Valley (14-2-3).
"I had guessed that we would get a 3 seed - behind Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz," said SHP coach Jake Moffat. "I hadn't thought about Live Oak. Since the WBAL is a B league, it is hard for us to do better than 2 or 3. I had no idea that Live Oak was Division 3 size school. I am thrilled to have the bye."
Menlo (13-2-4) was only third in the WBAL but received a higher (No. 6) seed than second-place Priory (9-5-6), the WBAL's No. 2 team. The Knights will open at home on Wednesday against No. `11 Seaside (11-4-3) at 2:30 p.m. The Panthers will have to travel to No. 10 seed Pacific Grove(14-5-1) for a 6 p.m. match on Wednesday. Pacific Grove is hosting because it's a league champion.
First-round wins by Menlo and Priory will earn them quarterfinal matches against No. 3 Santa Cruz (12-3-4) and No. 2 Live Oak (12-4-4), respectively.
In the boys' Division I bracket, Palo Alto (8-5-7) received a No. 7 seed and will travel to face No. 10 Leland (12-3-4) on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. The Vikings slipped into the section playoffs after tying Gunn for third place on the final day of the SCVAL De Anza Division season. Paly received the division's third automatic bid, based on power points, while Gunn was left out.
A first-round win by Paly will earn the Vikings a date with No. 2 Alisal (15-1-3) in the quarterfinals on Feb. 27.
Also in Division I will be the Menlo-Atherton boys (8-7-4), who received the No. 12 seed and will visit No. 5 Santa Clara on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. A possible quarterfinal date for M-A in the quarterfinals would be No. 4 Watsonville (15-3-2).
In Division III, both Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School made it into the bracket after finishing one-two in the WBAL. The Gators (16-3) earned an automatic bid by winning the league with a spotless 14-0 mark while the Knights (13-7-2) had to win two playoff matches to earn the second spot.
Sacred Heart received a No. 6 seed and will host No. 11 Live Oak (8-2-10) on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. A victory sends the Gators into the quarterfinals against No. 3 Santa Cruz on Feb. 27. Menlo got the No. 12 seed and will visit No. 5 Sacred Heart Cathedral (11-7-3) on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The winner will face No. 4 Saratoga (13-6-1) in the quarterfinals.