Boys’ soccer overcomes slow start, ties Los Altos 1-1

Peter Dennis, Staff Writer

The Palo Alto High School boys’ soccer team (6-2-3, 2-0-2) tied Los Altos High School 1-1 at Paly yesterday. The Vikings left the field somewhat disappointed with their play.

“The result’s not too bad,” goalkeeper Kris Hoglund (’12) said. “But we would have liked a win.”

Both teams started the game off slowly and sloppily, unable to develop good scoring chances. The Vikings also failed to connect on their two free kicks and a penalty kick. Colgate-bound Tony Panayides’ (’11) penalty kick was blocked by a diving Lucas Champenois’ (’12) who deflected the ball away from the lower left corner out of bounds. Free kicks by Gerrit van Zyll (’12) and Mark Raftrey (’11) also failed to find their way into the net.

Late in the first half, Los Altos’ Juan Morales (’11) weaved through three Paly defenders to put the Eagles on the board first. Paly also was given a scare when Hoglund punched the ball forward, in an effort to clear it. However, as Hoglund knocked it directly at an Eagles forward, he was flipped onto the ground leaving the net open. Van Zyll covered the open goal, and deflected the shot off his chest, offering Paly fans a sigh of relief. Paly went into the break down 1-0.

After the intermission, Paly was limited in its scoring attempts. Halfway through the second half, Paly entered its usual starters into the game. Many missed practice earlier in the week due to illnesses, which limited their playing time. Others were injured and unable to play at all.

“Well, we have Fede [Clerici], he was a defensive player, [forward] Zac Hummel’s got a hurt foot, [starting goalkeeper] Austin Shiau’s got a hurt ankle, and [midfielder] Ricky Minno’s got a groin problem, and all of those were starters,” Paly coach Don Briggs said. “So we’re just waiting for them to be able to play again.”

Hoglund attributed the loss to the slow start.

“It was tough because we weren’t playing with all our starters,” he said.

The Vikings’ Skyler Felt (’13) found an opening in the Eagles’ defense halfway through the second half and dished the ball to Panayides waiting in the center of the field, but Panayides missed the goal high.

Later, Felt got the ball from Occidental-bound John Richardson (’11) and bounced one over prostrate Champenois’ head midway through the second half to even the score, 1-1, which ended up being the final score.

Felt had earlier been ridiculed by the Los Altos crowd, which overwhelmed the meager Paly fans, because of his aggressive play.

“I’m just aggressive,” Felt said. “I play aggressive. If they get hurt, oh well.”

Felt and Champenois got into a scuffle towards the end of the first half, which set the tone for the remainder of the game. The Vikings charged out of the second half with more tenacity, leading to Paly’s lone goal.

Going forward, the team will look to avoid its slow starts , and return injured players to the field.

The Vikings travel to Mountain View to take on the Spartans, Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.