LOS ANGELES — Behind a relentless and balanced offensive blitz, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer dominated the run of play on Friday evening in the team's Mission League opener against visiting Alemany.
But after 15 minutes of play, all the Tologs had to show for it was a one-goal deficit. It was hardly enough for visiting Alemany to escape Occidental College with an upset victory, though, as junior Casey Basso provided an immediate spark off the bench to score the equalizer, sophomore Hannah Armendariz followed shortly with the eventual game-winner and senior Krista Meaglia scored the clincher late in the game to salt away a 3-1 win.
“We know that we can dominate the game, unfortunately, sometimes we can lose focus in the back and we’ve paid for it,” said Tologs first-year Coach Cesar Hidalgo, whose team improved to 9-0-2. “We know every game is gonna be like a championship game, that’s how the Mission League is. We just have to take it one game at a time.”
Despite outshooting Alemany (6-4-2, 0-1 in league) by a staggering 26-5 margin, the Tologs still had to come back and fight through a contentious match until Meaglia tallied the clincher when she blasted in a rebound of her own previous shot.
“I think we just had to relax and play our game,” Armendariz said.
Alemany didn’t have a shot until Tologs goalie Dani Garcia snuffed out a breakaway on a give-and-go 13 minutes into the match. But minutes later, another lapse led to a defensive miscue and another give-and-go. This time, Alemany’s Lauren Bennett crossed in a low shot for a 1-0 lead with 25 minutes to go in the first half.
“I think it was a little lack of focus,” Armendariz said.
Added Meaglia: “Sometimes we get too comfortable.”
Not long after Alemany’s goal, Basso came into play and at one point fired off four straight shots. Two of those came after Meaglia fed her a pass and Basso fired one shot and then took the rebound and crossed it to the far post where it caromed in for a 1-1 score.
Less than three minutes later, senior Sarah Teegarden, who missed the second half with back spasms, tapped a pass up to Armendariz, who put it in the back of the net. Armendariz was whistled offsides, though, just as another would-be Tologs score was called back later on.
But with just over two minutes left, after a frenzied Alemany attempt to clear a corner kick was played back in by senior Kendall Sandoval, senior Savannah Viola tapped a ball over to a streaking Armendariz in the center of the field and she one-touched a ball into the net for a 2-1 lead.
While many of the shots were right at her, freshman goalie Janay Varela was a thorn in the collective Sacred Heart side all match, as she tallied 17 saves.
“I think she was pretty good,” Meaglia said, “but our shooting still isn’t up to par.”
Sacred Heart — which bestowed Frank Pace, now the associate coach, his 200th win on the Tologs sideline — relinquished only two shots in the second half, though both needed to be saved by Garcia as they came in a three-minute span that saw Alemany stay within striking distance despite the Tologs having controlled the run of play.
Nevertheless, for a Tologs team that’s started the league season in recent years against fellow heavyweights like Harvard-Westlake and Chaminade, it was a good start to the Mission gauntlet.
Said Meaglia: “I think it gives us a lot more confidence.”