Boys soccer fails to advance in sectionals

The boys varsity soccer team played its first and last game in the Central Coast Section (CCS) tournament on Feb. 22. The team was in great form coming in, but lost an exceptionally close game in a penalty shootout after tying 1-1 with Menlo-Atherton High School after full and extra time.

Palo Alto and Menlo-Atherton were tied after 100 minutes of quality play by both teams. The first half of the game was scoreless, but Paly scored the first point on the board after just a few minutes in the second half. Senior Yahli Malchin crossed a perfect ball to senior Michel-Ange Siaba, who headed the ball into the back of the net.

Menlo-Atherton came back and scored a goal later in the half. Despite plenty of chances for each team in the first and second extra time periods, the game remained 1-1. Menlo-Atherton freshman goalkeeper Charlie McKay came up huge in the penalty shootout as Menlo-Atherton won 5-3 on penalties. Despite a valiant effort, the Vikings are out of CCS after only one game.

“The game against Menlo-Atherton was very disappointing for us, because even though we were the lower seeded team, we played like the much better side,” said junior Matt Knowles. “We played with a lot more intensity and confidence than them and were unfortunate not to get a few more goals, so we definitely have a lot of positives that we can take away from the loss.”

Leading up to CCS, on Feb. 2, the team played at home versus Homestead and lost in a very close game which ended in a 0-1 defeat. The Vikings fought hard but were unable to put the ball into the back of the net.

The Vikings would have benefitted from picking up points against a good team like Homestead to climb up the rankings, but were unfortunately unable to.

However, the team gained momentum the next few games as they obliterated their opponents. The Vikings played at home versus Los Gatos on Feb. 9 and turned their losing form around in a great performance which ended in a 2-0 win.

But their best performances were still to come. After a few days of rest, the team had a game away at Monta Vista in which the Vikes defeated their opponents 6-0, and the next day won again away at Santa Clara 5-0. Within the span of 24 hours, the team had scored an aggregate of 11 goals in two of their best performances of the season.

Overall, the Vikings’ season had been filled with ups and downs. The team started off with very solid performances, but suffered a mid-season slump as they lost and tied several matches which saw them fall down the league rankings.

This turned around towards the later stages of the season, resulting in the Vikings making it to CCS with a chance to go far, but they unfortunately were unable to overcome Menlo-Atherton’s solid performance and down the Bears.

“Despite the underwhelming end of the season, I was really happy with the manner in which we wrapped up the season,” said senior Neil Verwillow. “We started winning our league games and got the results that we needed to advance into CCS. A bit of a fluke honestly that we didn’t do better in the league, considering that we had the second most goals for and second least against, but I was definitely pleased with the effort as always, couldn’t have asked for anything else from the guys.”