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Top 12 of 2012

Photo By: Town Crier File Photo
Photo Town Crier File Photo Behind standout pitcher Ali Goldberg, the Los Altos High girls softball team didn’t lose a league game.

Ten was just not enough. There were too many local sports successes and shining moments to keep this year’s annual list to only 10 highlights.

So here’s a countdown of the Town Crier’s top 12 sports stories of 2012.

12 Pitch perfect. Not only did the Los Altos High softball team win a league title for the first time in 16 years, it did so without losing a game. Under new coach Tom Barrera, the Eagles went 12-0 in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division. Senior Ali Goldberg was the winning pitcher in every game and notched a 24-5 record for the season, matching her team’s overall mark. Goldberg was also among the Eagles’ top hitters, along with infielders Marialena Ahern, Kaitlyn Schiffhauer and Tianna Vasquez. Los Altos’ sensational season came to an end with a loss to Gilroy in the Central Coast Section Division II quarterfinals, snapping a 21-game winning streak. “The girls had a very memorable season,” Barrera said, “and I could not be more proud of how they turned the Los Altos softball program around.”

11 An electrifying night. The Mountain View High football team made the most of its first night game on campus, winning in dramatic fashion in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd. The Spartans rallied from a 21-point halftime deficit to stun Homestead 50-41. The temporary lights were gas-powered, but halfback Marcus Jones was electric – the senior scored 42 points (six touchdowns and three two-pointers) and accounted for 325 of Mountain View’s 484 yards of offense. Quarterback Will Fischer-Colbrie, tight end Frank Kapp and defensive end Nafe Latu made key plays late in the game as well. “Our kids willed themselves to come back and win,” coach Toure Carter said. “It was amazing. We just came alive.”

10 Third time’s the charm. After losing back-to-back CCS Division I finals, the St. Francis High girls water polo team brought home the title with an 8-3 win over Leland. The top-seeded Lancers held a 4-0 advantage at halftime and kept the Chargers at a safe distance the rest of the way. Courtney Batcheller and Brittany Kirwan each scored two goals for St. Francis and goalie Katherine Moore made 10 saves. Sami Strutner was the Lancers’ “defensive shut-down player,” assistant coach Erin Inkster said.

9 Last public school standing. In a sport dominated by private schools, the Mountain View High boys basketball team advanced further in the CCS Division II playoffs than any other public school. The Spartans – featuring stellar shooters James Watanabe, Dylan Collins and Nick Wang, and big man Brian Kaestner – whipped Westmont and Leigh to reach the semifinals. That’s where the SCVAL De Anza Division co-champs ran into mighty Mitty, which won the title. “This year’s been special,” coach Jim Forthoffer said. “These kids have heart, they play hard and they have a never-say-die attitude.”

8 A dynamic duo. Anthony Bello and Spencer Simonides combined forces to make Los Altos High history, winning the school’s first CCS doubles title in boys tennis. Playing in only their second tournament together, the third-seeded duo won all four CCS matches in straight sets. The juniors beat second-seeded Michael Hoffman and William Boyd of Menlo 6-1, 6-3 in the final. “The end result was awesome,” Los Altos coach Bill Wong said.

7 On track to make history. The Mountain View High girls track and field team broke more records than a clumsy DJ. Brielle Rowe twice eclipsed the school record in the discus, Samantha Sinclair set a new standard in the shot put and Allison Sturges broke a 41-year-old record in the 800-meter run. As a team, the girls went undefeated in dual meets for the fifth straight year, as did the boys. “The Mountain View girls team is one of the most talented teams I have ever coached,” coach Jeff Trout said.

6 Snapping the streak. The St. Francis High boys volleyball team did what no team could the previous five years – beat Bellarmine in the CCS final. The Lancers rallied from a 12-11 deficit in the fifth game, rattling off four straight points against their rivals to claim the Division I crown. “I’m certain that everyone wanted this CCS title just as much as the man beside him, and that desire really carried us through until the end,” said senior standout James Shaw, who notched two of his career-high 40 kills in the decisive run.

5 Shooting stars. The high-scoring Pinewood School boys basketball team advanced to the Northern California Division V final for the first time in 25 years. The two-time CCS champion Panthers won two games to reach the regional final, thanks to sharpshooting guards Dante Fraioli, Kevin Sweat and Bradley Naumann, and prolific post players Solomone Wolfgramm and Cameron Helvey. But Pinewood struggled to score in the final against defensive-minded St. Joseph Notre Dame, which triumphed 77-53. “It was obviously a difficult game to end on,” coach Jason Peery said, “but I couldn’t be prouder of this group of boys. In my opinion, this is the best Pinewood boys basketball team that there’s ever been.”

4 Green giants. St. Francis High has produced several great golfers, but the school never before had two players perform as well as Nancy Xu and Jonathan Garrick did this year. Junior Xu won the Northern California girls title and senior Garrick finished in a three-way tie for first at the NorCal boys championships. Xu bagged four birdies on the back nine to tie for the top spot, then birdied the first playoff hole to beat Justin-Siena’s Kathleen Scavo. Garrick birdied his last three holes to advance to a playoff, but his streak ended there as Armijo’s Aaron Beverly prevailed.

3 A run of success. Los Altos High’s boys and girls cross-country teams set new standards for the school. The boys placed ninth and the girls 18th in the state Division II race – the highest-ever finishes by their respective teams. “Both teams can confidently say that they are the best boys and girls teams in school history,” Eagles coach Dan Oren said. Senior Terence Rabuzzi paced the boys with a 16th-place time of 15 minutes, 46.2 seconds; freshman Lauren Jacob led the girls with an 18:30.1 to finish 18th.

2 Stingy Spartans. The Mountain View High girls soccer team won its first CCS title, and the Spartans did it with defense. They scored only one goal in the playoffs – winning their first two games on penalty kicks – and it came from midfielder Erica Higa in the final to edge Los Gatos 1-0. Goalie Sarah Benett posted her sixth straight shutout for third-seeded Mountain View. “We’ve been through so many tough obstacles this season and they just kept fighting through them,” coach Ivan Bandov said. “This is a storyline no one could have written.”

1 Lancers love a rainy night. The rain proved as relentless as St. Francis High’s defense in the CCS Division II football final. Top seed St. Francis shut out Los Gatos 17-0 to secure its first section title in 10 years. The Lancers, who surrendered just seven points over three playoff games, twice stopped defending champ Los Gatos inside their 6-yard line. “We have a different mindset,” said linebacker Grant Tinker, who led the Lancers with nine solo tackles. “It’s not just to win, but it’s how we win – we don’t want to give up a field goal or a touchdown.” St. Francis’ touchdowns came in the second half on Mike Lauck’s 10-yard toss to Charlie Clarke and Alex Andrighetto’s 10-yard scamper.

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