In an exciting matchup between longstanding rivals, the Palo Alto High School boys’ soccer team (13-4-2, 7-3-2) defeated the Gunn High School Titans (12-7-1, 9-3-0), 2-0 in the first round of the Central Coast Section Playoffs on Wednesday.
Both teams went into Wednesday’s game with similar records, resulting in a tight game with multiple changes in possessions.
Paly coach Don Briggs was pleased with Paly’s performance and hopes it will sustain this level of play for future games.
“We controlled the ball most of the time and kept them from doing too much,” Briggs said. “Our midfield played really well controlling the game and bringing the ball outside to the flanks.”
However, while the Vikings created many scoring opportunities, they struggled to capitalize on most of them.
“We had so many chances to score and that was probably our downside,” Briggs said. “Two-nothing is still a close game.”
Junior striker Isaiah Schoenberger scored the first goal of the game midway through the first half off an assist from junior midfielder Eric Aboytes.
“Eric made a beautiful cross and I was just lucky to get there and tap it in,” Schoenberger said.
Senior captain centerback Matt Knowles made the second and last goal of the game with a header into the goal from a corner kick.
“In practice we worked on that corner play,” Knowles said. “Fortunately for me the ball came right to me and my defender wasn’t facing it so I had an easy header and I just finished.”
While the team dominated Gunn, Knowles wants to see it continue to perform at a high level in future games and he is confident that it will play well in the next round of CCS.
“I want to see the team just play hard, every single ball, every single tackle,” Knowles said. “We beat the first-seed team in our bracket in the preseason two nil so we are confident that we can beat any team in here.”
The Vikings will face off against Menlo Atherton High School (10-7-4, 9-2-3) in the CCS quarterfinals this Saturday, Feb. 24. Location is to be decided.