By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
As we embark on yet another exciting year of sports in Pacific Palisades there are many memorable plays, record-breaking achievements and storybook endings to come. Before we look ahead, however, let us take a quick look back at the highlights of the past 12 months. Here is a countdown of the Palisadian-Post’s Top 10 sports stories in 2020…
Paul Revere Soccer Claims Delphic League Crown
10The Paul Revere Middle School girls soccer team made history in February when it capped off an undefeated season with a 2-0 shutout of Marlborough to capture its first Junior Delphic League championship. The squad of 6th to 8th-graders rolled through league play, outscoring its opponents 24-4 to earn a spot in the final. Inspired by head coach Mele French, Revere scored two goals in the second half. Jaya Babber was steady in net while Madeline Grover earned MVP accolades.
Pali High Girls Water Polo Loses in Finals Thriller
9Making its seventh finals appearance in eight seasons, the Pali High girls water polo team was trying to repeat as City champion in February. The Dolphins met Birmingham for the title and the Patriots prevailed 17-16 in a contest that saw nine ties and seven lead changes. Leighanne Estabrook scored six goals while Elyana Goren, Addie Edwards and Sydney Brouwer each added three for Palisades, which lost to Birmingham by one goal in the SoCal Regional Division III semifinals one week later.
McEnroe Highlights Second Riviera Tennis Classic
8It was just like old times when retired tennis greats John McEnroe and Michael Chang faced off in the feature match at the Riviera Tennis Classic in January. Chang prevailed in a tiebreaker., then McEnroe paired with American teen Amanda Anisimova against Chang and rising WTA star Naomi Osaka for a spirited doubles clash. Russian star Maria Sharapova, who had recently retired, earlier joined the foursome in a “Citi-Taste of Tennis” cook-off. The charity event raised $20,000 for Heal the Bay.
Pali High Soccer Takes City Final to Penalty Kicks
7The Pali High girls soccer team has never come closer to winning the City soccer championship than it came in March when the Dolphins battled through 80 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime before falling 5-4 in a shootout against top-seeded Granada Hills. Izzy Gill scored off a feed from Sierra Clarke in the 23rd minute to put the Dolphins ahead and freshman goalie Giorgia Sterza made several acrobatic saves before the Highlanders tied it in the 59th minute in a rematch of the 2014 final.
Local Holiday Races Canceled Due to COVID-19
6Since 1978, the Palisades Will Rogers Run has started local Fourth of July festivities off on a patriotic note. The popular 5K through the Huntington neighborhood and 10K through the switchbacks of Will Rogers State Park is as much a Palisades tradition as the parade and fireworks but for the first time in 43 years the race was canceled due to COVID-19. Another holiday race been gaining momentum over the last decade is the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. The eighth annual 5/10K was also canceled.
Pali High Soccer Senior Dies After Club Practice
5Perhaps the most shocking and tragic sports story of the year occurred in August. The sudden death of 17-year-old Pali High soccer player Shane Thomas following a morning practice in 110-degree heat with his U19 club squad in Chino Hills sent shockwaves through the community. Teammates gathered that evening to set up a memorial on campus. Thomas made the All-City team after leading the Dolphins with 18 goals as a junior last winter and was slated to be the captain in 2020-21.
Freshman Ryan Woods Wins City Wrestling Title
4Ryan Woods played the waiting game at the City Wrestling Championships in February. The Pali High freshman stayed focused during a five-hour break between the semifinals and finals and after what seemed an eternity he pinned San Pedro’s Tyler Donald in the second period to win the 106-pound division and become the first freshman in program history to take first place. He won all of his matches by fall in the two-day tournament.
Heineman Brothers Play Each Other in MLB Series
3For Tyler and Scott Heineman, more than just three wins were at stake when the San Francisco Giants hosted the Texas Rangers for a three-game series at Oracle Park in August. So too were family bragging rights. The brothers faced each other for the first time in their Major League Baseball careers and in the end older brother Tyler had the last laugh as the Giants took the series two games to one. Scott homered in the ninth inning of Game Two.
Scott Triumphant in Genesis Invitational at Riviera
2When his par putt dropped on the last hole of the Genesis Invitational in February at Riviera Country Club, Australian Adam Scott shot his right fist skyward, relieved that this time his win at one of golf’s most prestigious venues actually counted. He beat Chad Campbell in a playoff on the same course in 2005 at what was then the Nissan Open, but it wasn’t an official win as rain forced the event to be shortened to 36 holes. This time he made clutch putts throughout a final-round 70 for his 14th victory on the PGA TOUR.
Pali High Basketball Teams Shoot to Section Titles
1The glass slippers fit perfectly for Pali High’s boys basketball players in a Cinderella season that saw the Dolphins win the City Division I crown—their first section title since 1969. Only a few hours later, on the same court at LA Southwest College, the girls team won the Open Division championship. A week later it wrapped up “March Madness” by beating Santa Monica in the SoCal Regional Division II final. Though COVID-19 denied the Dolphins a shot at the state title, they won 26 games for a second straight year.
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