Boys’ soccer overpowers Aragon

In a triumphant performance, the Palo Alto High School boys’ soccer team (3-1) beat the Aragon Dons (2-3-1), 2-0, Friday night at home. 

Despite having beaten Wilcox on Tuesday in a 2-1 victory, the Vikings went into the game with caution, according to junior defender Jonas Pao.

“I knew this was going to be an important game because we needed a win to make our record three-to-one,” Pao said. “I knew they were a really hard team because they [Aragon] had beaten Menlo, which is the team that we have lost to, so it was going to be a tough game.”

In the first half, Paly started off early with a goal from senior midfielder Noah Adesnik, establishing an early lead 20 minutes into the game and gaining momentum over the Dons. From there, they continued to hold their ground on the offensive, with junior forward Rhys Foote and senior attacking midfielder James Churchley creating runs that kept the game in the middle of the field. 

The rest of the first half proved to be more of a back-and-forth struggle. With both teams unable to make defining headway, despite several great plays facilitated by Aragon’s senior midfielder captain Alexis Villanueva, including a close attempted shot late in the half, the half ended 1-0.

According to Aragon junior Brendan Pineda, who plays center midfield, the Dons did well on offense despite the lack of goals.

I think the team was able to get in their [the Vikings’] half [of the field] pretty well,” Pineda said. “We were able to get the ball in the Vikings’ half whenever we put our heads up … Sometimes we played and took too many touches, but for the most part, we were able to get in their half.”

The second half picked up where the first half left off: both teams unable to make a successful run with offense and defense equally matched. Viking junior goalkeeper Charlie Merkel stopped a close attempted shot, but for the most part, the beginning of the half stayed stagnant.

According to Paly junior midfielder Zach Cooper, the Vikings’ effective defense against Aragon helped limit the Dons’ offense. 

“They [the Dons] couldn’t hold the ball — our defense was solid,” Cooper said. “We’d always just be on them every single time they got the ball.” 

Viking senior captain Jaron Majors attempted a close header shot towards the end of the half, kicking off a series of offensive plays that led to the injury of Aragon’s goalkeeper, junior Lukas Peschke, who was subbed out after a collision with Foote. 

In the final minutes of the match, Foote was able to intercept a pass and, after a short exchange, scored a goal, making the score 2-0. Pao said this goal was unexpected, as the Vikings put an emphasis on defense throughout the game.

“I think it really put the nail in the coffin, and there was there’s no more coming back after that one,” Pao said. “So it was a super important goal and super surprising.” 

Paly head coach Rusty Millard said communication was an important aspect of the team’s performance.

“Our defense is always probably the loudest,” Millard said. “They’re the most vocal out on the field, and we work on that all the time. We want to make sure that we’re on the same page.” 

Pao shared a similar perspective, attributing on-field communication as a big factor of the win. 

“We always practice communicating, and it’s one of our biggest things,” Pao said. Our coach emphasizes that constantly, so definitely being able to communicate effectively has led to our lead and our win.” 

Being Millard’s second year of coaching the team, he said he’s hopeful for the continuation of this year’s season after undergoing a truncated season last year.

“We want to re-establish ourselves,” Millard said. “We want to be one of the best programs in the CCS, we want our soccer program to be respected, and we want people to know that they’re gonna have to come in there and play our best game against that.”

The Vikings play next against Lynbrook at 7 p.m. Tuesday at home.