LOS ANGELES -- On an evening full of golden scoring opportunities, what seemed unlikely was that a close-range goal in the opening minutes of a girls’ soccer match between area rivals Crescenta Valley High and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy would end being all that separated the two powers.
Yet, a five-yard header from Tologs senior striker Hailey James in the sixth minute turned out to be the match-winner as Sacred Heart defeated Crescenta Valley, 1-0, in nonleague action Saturday evening at Occidental College’s Jack Kemp Stadium.
“We expected a very difficult match against CV because they always play us hard,” Tologs Coach Cesar Hidalgo said. “Sometimes that’s soccer. It’s hard to score goals when you have 20 players all playing in an 18-yard box.”
James’ score was the second of 15 shots taken by the Tologs (2-0) on the evening. In comparison, Crescenta Valley (0-2) fired four total shots.
As Hidalgo noted, the goal resembled many of the Tologs’ scoring chances as there was a glut of players within the box when senior forward Savannah Viola floated a corner kick, the first of three such set pieces for Sacred Heart, into the goalmouth.
Viola’s pass sailed by a Falcons’ defender and into striking range of James, who whipped a five-yard goal with ease.
“I was just looking to try to knock it into the back of the net. When I saw the ball coming my way, I was like ‘Oh,’”James said. “I just ran and looked for my chance.”
About 11 minutes later, it appeared the Tologs would double their lead when Viola crossed between two defenders and flicked a pass to a streaking James, who this time headed a shot just wide left of the goal defended by junior Emily Johnson.
Unfortunately for the Tologs, James’ second try highlighted an all too common occurrence as Sacred Heart came close on several tries.
In the 28th minute, a cross-field pass from Kendall Sandoval to Katie Schinnerer was shot wide right from 15 yards.
Sarah Teegarden also missed just high on a 23-yard free kick in the 55th minute, while Miranda Saldivar joined the ranks of the so-close when her 25-yard shot curved past the far post by about two yards.
“That’s soccer. That’s what happens. Sometime you have a lot of great opportunities and not come away with anything,” Hidalgo said. “At least we got one.”
Despite the shot differential, the Falcons created a couple of close calls, the first in the 37th minute when a long ball from senior Sierra Rhoads bounced into a crowd of players at the 18 and found its way to junior Sarah Worden, who tapped a shot right at Tologs keeper Dani Garcia (two saves).
Crescenta Valley had a similar chance in the final minute of the match when a 40-yard free kick from Whitley Boller bounced by a defender and just slightly too far ahead for Katie Callister, who could only flick a shot off the front of her foot into the waiting arms of Garcia.
“If you look at how many shots they had, this was great for us. With a 1-0 final score and the goal coming off a set piece, you can’t be disappointed,” Falcons Coach Jorden Schulz said. “This is only our second game of the year and this is a Division I school we’re playing, so I’m proud of the effort.”
Crescenta Valley’s goalkeeping duo of Johnson and Samantha Lizer finished with a combined four saves.