The Menlo School boys' varsity soccer team advanced to the CCS semifinals for the first time in school history after defeating No. 2 seed Soledad 2-0 at Gilroy High School on Saturday.
Menlo will play Harbor of Santa Cruz in the CCS semi-finals on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at a time and site to be determined. The last time te Knights advanced to the quarterfinals was 2002 when the PAL-Ocean champions fell to Santa Cruz.
The Knights (14-5-3 overall, 9-3-2 in WBAL) struggled to find their rhythm early in the game as Soledad controlled play with quick passing in midfield. Menlo started to come into the game midway through the half and looked dangerous on the counter.
In the 20th minute senior Ryan Karle was fouled 25 yards from the Aztec goal. Karle took the ensuing free kick which deflected off the wall and found the side netting for a 1-0 lead.
The goal gave Menlo some needed confidence and they almost added to their tally a minute later when senior captain Max Parker beat his defender down the right wing and served a teasing cross to junior John Strong at the back post who was unable to hit the target.
The Knights didn't have to wait long though as a few minutes later senior captain Andrew Schmitt was played in down the left wing. Schmitt crossed for Parker in the middle but a Soledad defender got to the ball first and in an attempt to clear put the ball past his keeper and into his own net.
The Aztecs' confidence was shaken and Menlo saw out the half rather comfortably. The second half was a little chippy as Soledad battled to get the goal needed to get them back into the game unsuccessfully. Though Menlo was at times unable to keep possession, its defense held strong.
Senior captain Timmy Costa recorded his 12th shutout of the season in goal, continuing what has been a dominant season in goal for the Knights. Junior defenders Matt Myers and Justin Wang also had standout performances in helping Costa keep yet another clean sheet.