Flintridge Sacred Heart soccer rallies to tie San Gabriel Mission

LOS ANGELES — It promised to be a good early test for the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team, as it hosted San Gabriel Mission on Monday.

Neither team had tasted defeat or even allowed a goal heading into the game.

In an exceptionally well-played game by both sides, the Tologs ratcheted it up in the second half and stepped back from the edge of defeat with a late goal to salvage a 2-2 draw against the Pioneers in a nonleague contest at Occidental College.

“It was a good test for us. [The Pioneers] are a good team,” Tologs coach Mark Snashall said. “Our girls know their girls and it was a good test. We played well. They played well. It was a good game.”

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy (2-0-1) trailed San Gabriel Mission (5-0-1) with just over three minutes to go when Tolog Marissa Venneri put home the equalizer to make it 2-2.

“What happened with the ball is that I saw it just fumble [free] and there was my opportunity,” Venneri said. “I came right at the keeper, right at the defender and just shot it with my right foot and it ended up in the corner. I got very happy.”

It was the second goal of the game for the senior, who saw her uncle across the field coaching the Pioneers.

“When we started [our program], they were one of the schools we looked up to and hoped to get our program to be as competitive as theirs,” Pioneer coach Francisco Lopez said. “My niece plays on that team, so, actually, it was a little bit nice. She scored the two goals on us, so I’m OK with that.”

San Gabriel Mission did not have a shot attempt in the second half. When the final whistle sounded, it seemed to feel more like a win to the Tologs.

“This entire team, [San Gabriel Mission], is practically my club team and the coach is my uncle,” Venneri said. “All of them are very special to me, so I just wanted to beat them so badly I would do anything.”

After giving up the first two goals of the game, FSHA scored to cut the deficit in half in the 37th minute.

San Gabriel Mission was whistled for a hand ball near the top of the box, resulting in a penalty kick for the Tologs. Venneri stepped up to the mark and scored.

Pioneer Juliana Lopez scored the first goal of the contest in the 26th minute. Her sister, Isabella Lopez, slotted her a pass down the right side of the field. The junior dribbled before uncorking a low, hard shot to make it 1-0.

San Gabriel Mission extended its lead to 2-0 about 10 minutes later on another Lopez goal. However, this time it was Isabella who gained possession of the ball in the middle of the field and promptly blasted a shot from 22 yards away past the goalkeeper.

“I think in the second half we got our heads on straight,” Venneri said. “Our demeanor completely changed.”

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