The Palo Alto High School boys’ soccer team (2-0, 6-1) shut out Homestead High School (1-1, 7-2-2) 2-0 on Friday in its second De Anza League game of the season.
The Vikings dominated the first portion of the game with possession-focused play, according to head coach Don Briggs.
“The first half of the first half, the first 20 minutes, we played really well, but we didn’t score,” Briggs said. “They just took it to us in the last 20 minutes of the first half and I was a little bit concerned, but we pulled it back together at halftime and we had a good second half.”
According to junior midfielder Jack Stoksik, who scored both of the goals for the Vikings, the halftime talk acted as a reminder to what they had to do to succeed. Stoksik accredited much of the team’s success to its defensive play.
“Coach told us to pick it up at halftime, and we did that,” Stoksik said. “I thought that we were really solid defensively and kept it tight.”
Paly was able to secure the win through the effort of all of its players and their ability to work together, according to senior goalkeeper Eli Friedlander.
“We stayed organized in the back, and they didn’t get any clear cut chances,” Friedlander said. “Everyone came out here and played really hard. When we play as hard as we did today, we’re going to win a lot of the 50-50 balls and that’s going to put us in a good position to win a game.”
According to senior center defender Reuben Kramer, the Vikings struggled with staying focused and composed, as play was fast-paced throughout the match.
“We struggled the most in keeping our composure,” Kramer said. “There were a couple of moments when we got excited when they had the ball and we started not thinking rationally. It was just us getting outside of our heads.”
The Mustangs were the biggest defensive challenge for Paly so far this season, according to Briggs.
“They were pushing us,” Briggs said. “That’s the hardest that our defense has been pushed this year.”
Briggs intends to address the team’s issue of staying in position and adjusting appropriately.
“Right now, we need to work on keeping our shape,” Briggs said. “We have guys flying out to try to defend or get a ball and they leave a hole behind them and then they [other team] start play-making us.”
Homestead head coach Luis Comesana recognized his own team’s struggle to possess and stay composed under high pressure.
“We needed to possess the ball a little bit more,” Comesana said. “We were rushed. We were put under pressure. I think that today, the better team won.”
Despite the score, Comesana remained proud of his players’ resilience.
“We fought back,” Comesana said. “As a coach, you always want your players to give their best all the way to the end, no matter what the score is.”
Looking ahead, the Vikings hope to live up to last year’s record with a De Anza League title, according to Stoksik.
“If we continue in this form, I think we definitely have a shot at winning league,” Stoksik said.
Paly will play its cross-town rivals, the Gunn Titans, at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Gunn High School.