Paly Triumphant After Defeating Cross-Town Rival Gunn 2-1


Photo Courtesy of Karen Hickey

Paly boys varsity soccer team won 2-1 against cross-town rivals, the Gunn Titans after a last-minute game-winner scored by James Churchley (‘22).

Being Paly’s senior night, head coach Rusty Millard started the game playing a mostly full lineup of seniors, with the exception of junior Isaac Kirby in goal.

Starting in the back four were seniors Sebastian Bonnard, Nathan Brown, Adam Finnis, and Phillip Churchley.

The midfield was controlled by seniors James Churchley, Noah Adesnik, Daniel Michel, and Paly’s attacking forces were led by seniors Kip Saxon, Tony Jeon, Jaron Majors.

Junior Isaac Kirby snatches the ball out of the air to stop Gunn’s attack.
Photo Courtesy of Karen Hickey

Kirby made an incredible save to stop Gunn from taking the lead early in the match, which quickly transitioned into an attacking threat for the Vikings.

Paly scored early in the game around the 20-minute mark off of a counter ending in Tony Jeon placing the ball through the keeper’s legs and into the back of the net, putting Paly up 1-0 with much of the game left to play.

Nearing the end of the half the Titans evened out the score with a well-placed header into the far corner past Kirby, and both teams exited the half all tied up, hopeful to take the lead after the break.

With a fresh lineup including many juniors, Paly looked to take the lead early in the half. Although the Vikings were producing opportunity after opportunity they couldn’t find a way to break past Gunn’s strong defense.

Senior James Churchley celebrates after scoring the game-winner.
Photo Courtesy of Karen Hickey

As the half went on both teams struggled to produce a goal, and as 40 minutes went by scoreless both teams seemed outworked by each other. This changed when Churchley netted an astounding header in stoppage time.

A couple of minutes later the referee whistled for the end of the game, and Paly’s supporters joined the team in the Palo Alto logo to celebrate their triumphant victory.

Paly looks to continue their victorious streak into the CCS Division 1 quarter-finals against Wilcox today.

A win will send them into the quarter-finals to face the winner of Aragon High school and Aptos high school.

Man of the Match

Time dwindled in the second half, both teams not capitalizing on the many chances they created. What would seem like a scoreless second half that would end in a draw between these crosstown rivals was quickly turned into an astonishing feat when senior James Churchley headed the ball past the Titans keeper. 

“The last-minute goal by James was an amazing way to end the senior night, especially against Gunn,” junior Charlie Merkel said. 

This gave Paly the much-needed win, granting them both a higher seed in CCS and the satisfaction of beating their school’s biggest rivals in their own senior night game.

View the CCS Bracket Here