Pali High Girls Soccer Dealt First Loss by Crosstown Rival Santa Monica
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
The Palisades High girls soccer team was riding high entering Monday afternoon’s annual Battle of the Beach against crosstown rival Santa Monica.The Dolphins had outscored their first five opponents 39-0 and were eager to win back bragging rights and the trophy in an intersectional duel that has proven to be an early-season measuring stick.
After a sluggish start Palisades struck first when Sadie Holt half-volleyed a pass from Jordan Darrow past Santa Monica goalkeeper Cassidy Van Cott in the 36th minute. However, Maya Cooper answered less than a minute later and the visiting Vikings added two second-half goals to prevail 3-1.
“A lot of us know each other from club season so it’s an interesting dynamic,” said Holt, who plays for Santa Monica United. “At the beginning we were super nervous but we settled down. On the goal it was a touch and a shot. The last couple of minutes we played with five forwards trying to tie it.”
Sierra Merrille slipped behind the defense to give Santa Monica a 2-1 advantage in the 56th minute, forcing Palisades to adopt a more aggressive approach for the remainder of the contest. Palisades missed several quality chances in close and with the Dolphins pressing for the equalizer Santa Monica’s London Wilkes netted an insurance goal moments before the final whistle.
Former Pali High coach Luis Inga and Santa Monica coach Jimmy Chapman started the game in 2013-14 and when current coach Christian Chambers took over the program the next year he kept the Vikings on the slate. Santa Monica holds a 3-2-1 edge.
Palisades blanked all three of its Western League opponents last week. Frankie Van Norden and Ashley Sloan each scored twice in a 7-0 shutout of University, Dylan Tzung netted four goals in a 10-0 win at Venice and Van Norden had four goals and Tzung added three in a 12-0 rout of Fairfax.
Palisades’ boys beat University 3-1 last Monday and blanked Venice 10-0 last Wednesday before settling for a scoreless draw with Fairfax last Friday.