Tue09022014

Sports

Eagles lose element of surprise


Shirley Pefley/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Julia Goupil, front, battles a Monta Vista player for the ball. Host Los Altos prevailed 6-0.

Returning 16 players and nearly every starter from last year’s talented team, the Los Altos High girls soccer squad doesn’t lack for much this season. The Eagles’ biggest loss may have been the element of surprise.

After winning the 2013 Central Coast Section Division II championship with a stunning playoff run that included upsets of Mitty and St. Francis, the Eagles are a marked team.

“It’s going to be a much more difficult road to CCS this year,” said midfielder Allie Crum, who scored game-winning goals against Mitty in the semifinals and St. Francis in the final. “Since we are no longer under the radar, teams expect much more, and therefore want to take us down.”

That may help explain Los Altos’ so-so start. The team entered league with a 2-2-1 record. After tying Palo Alto to open SCVAL De Anza Division play, the Eagles blew out Monta Vista last week.

“I don’t know if it was the best game yet,” Crum said of the 6-0 home win, “but we definitely played well and developed our chemistry.”

Los Altos used a balanced attack to whip the winless Matadors (0-7-1), getting goals and/or assists from five players Jan 15. Sophomore Tess Wendelken and freshman Emily Pye scored two goals each for the Eagles, while junior Rebecca Andrews and senior Julia Goupil had one apiece. Pye and Crum both notched two assists; Andrews and freshman Stephanie Campos earned an assist each.

Pye has a team-high 13 points this season; Andrews is next with nine and Crum’s six ranks third.

The defense dominated Monta Vista as well, posting its second shutout of the season. Junior Elena Strawn and sophomore Carrie Wendelken (Tess’ twin) split time in goal, combining for three saves. Carrie Wendelken, who starred in the playoffs, has 22 saves this year.

“We are still concentrating on our overall team defense that was so important to our success last year,” Crum said, “but we are also focusing on our attack and making opportunities in the final third of the field.”

Los Altos finished third in league a year ago, just behind Los Gatos and Mountain View. The Eagles are scheduled to host the rival Spartans 3:30 p.m. today.

“Like the last few years, Los Gatos and Mountain View will be tough competitors,” Crum said, “Palo Alto is also back in our league, and they are a very talented team. But as we learned firsthand last year, it’s really anyone’s game.”

While repeating as CCS champs is the ultimate goal, Crum stressed the importance of performing well in league to achieve that objective.

“We need to keep reminding ourselves that it’s possible to go far in CCS, but we also can’t go into any game with the mindset that we are automatically going to win,” she said. “It’s a long journey to CCS, so we’re taking it one game at a time.”

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