Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

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Palo Alto High School boys’ soccer refuses to shake off a nasty habit. After hosting the Los Gatos High School Wildcats on their home turf this afternoon, the Vikings left the field with missed opportunities, dimming the scoreboard with yet another tie, 0-0. Still missing key players, the team’s bench picked up another, seating midfielder Tony Panayides (’11) due to a lower-back injury he endured during hard play in last week’s matchup against Gunn High School.

“I checked in with my trainer and don’t know if I’ll be coming back for the rest of the season,” Panayides said. “I’m going to physical therapy tomorrow so we’ll see how that goes.”

Looking to rise in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) rankings, the Vikings needed a win to jump from their fourth place standing to second. Without the points from a win, Paly will remain in its fourth place position, just out of reach of a Central Coasts Section (CCS) tournament showing. The team will need to score goals in its next two league games and earn at least a third place spot in league to qualify for the tournament.

“There’s nothing to change,” Coach Don Briggs said. “We just need to score goals and win games.”

Many players on the team expressed concern regarding the lineup, hoping that a more consistent rotation between players at the forward position will give the team the chances it needs to put balls in the back of the net.

“It is slightly mystifying that our leading scorer Skyler Felt (’13) played few minutes up front,” midfielder Mark Raftrey (’11) surmised.

Regardless of who was on the field at any given moment during the game, the level of play didn’t amount to anything more than nifty passing around the box. The team seemed to do a good job at moving the ball forward from the defense but shuffled the ball between players without purpose. The ball traveled from one side to the other and more often the not made its way into a blackhole, where it would disappear into the feet of defending Cats. Once at the frontline, the rhythm slowed down to Los Gatos’ pace.

In the first half, the Vikings managed to place a few set pieces into the box but consistently found the Los Gatos keeper Marshall Finch’s (’12) hands instead of white shirts. The Viking’s offense did find energy in the middle of the field with center midfielder John Richardson (’11). Richardson slotted balls to his wingmen for crosses, but couldn’t rally his men to crash the box and meet the ball with their heads. With less than five minutes in the half remaining, Richardson broke through the Cats line, dueling the keeper in a one-on-one situation, but sent the ball just short of the inside post, bouncing out of play. In a diving attempt to meet the strike, Finch fishtailed to his right side, landing awkwardly on his back, without the support of his hands to break the fall. Finch lay placidly on his side after the play, calling for coach Rusty Milliard to make a goalie substitution.

“We had Finch checked out by the Paly trainer [Stacy Koffman], who assessed the injury as a hip-rotator injury,” Milliard said. “It’s a serious injury so I don’t know how long he’ll be out for but we had faith in our second goalie Logan Chapman (’12).”

Playing his almost-second game of the season, Chapman gave a brilliant showing this afternoon, swatting balls and managing his defense with command.

“My job is to keep [the defense] organized,” Chapman said. “I did my job.”

Working with a young squad after graduating a large class of seniors, Milliard believes his team played up to his standards by releasing the outside backs and getting forward. Unfortunately, pushing the ball into Viking territory didn’t materialize points for the Cats, as they struggled to break down the Vikings and fell victim to relentless offside traps lad by sweeper Garret Van Zyll (’12).

In the second half, both teams exchanged a myriad of attempts, but the Vikings proved their dominance with a strong passing game. Richardson received well-placed crosses from Zac Hummel (’11) but didn’t put away the one touch volleys under pressure.

“I saw it coming,” Richardson said. “Then I began to overthink it, so I missed.”

The Vikings will need to concentrate in their coming match at Los Altos on Feb. 22 at 3:30 p.m. if they want to take steps toward CCS competition.

“We need to score goals,” holding midfielder Austin Smith (’11) said. “It’s that simple.”

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About the Contributor
Sam Greene
Sam Greene, Copy Editor
Sam Greene studies at the Univesity of California, Berkeley. He joined the journalism program at Palo Alto High School in 2008  and has been writing for himself and professional publications ever since.   While working with the Viking Magazine he enjoyed polishing and buffing up its array of award-winning pieces. With his free time he follows artists, practices medicine, blends smoothies and climbs mountains. In his soccer career he played for Palo Alto Blue 93B State Champion team and Nationally renowned soccer club. With his free time he familiarizes himself with stringed instruments and trains for triathlons.  A dedicated Sharks fan, Sam bleeds and teal and sees his team clinching the playoff in his lifetime.

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