Amid all the Mission League magnificence, playoff pitfalls and postseason pinnacles that have summed up the last four seasons of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer history, Breeana Koemans was there.
Through all the tribulation and triumph, injury and absence, brilliance and bitterness that made up the 2012 Tologs season, No. 10 was there.
She was a complete package on the field, possessing ability in both feet to score from near and far, a pinpoint passer, a vocal leader, a physical presence and a statistical splendor. But perhaps what stuck out most was the simple fact that she was always there. Whether it was a nonleague match, against a league rival, in a CIF Southern Section Division I playoff game or a CIF Southern California Regional contest, she was there.
And during her senior season, when the Tologs were synonymous with injuries and missing standouts, she was a constant. She was constantly clutch, she was constantly at her best against the best and she was constantly the very best in the area. Thus, Breeana Koemans was unanimously voted the 2012 All-Area Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year by the sports editors and writers of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader, La Cañada Valley Sun and Pasadena Sun.
“Breeana had arguably the greatest four-year high school career of any local high school player — male or female,” Tologs Coach Frank Pace says. “She has won or shared in virtually every individual award and team championship there is in leading us to national prominence.”
Among a cast brimming with talent that would carry it to the greatest season in the history of area girls’ soccer — bar none — Koemans still managed to stand out.
“You never know when your last game is,” Koemans says, “and I have so much respect for the game that I go out there to play like it could be my last game.”
The Northeastern-bound Koemans was an integral part in the team’s claiming the area’s first and only CIF Southern California Division III Regional girls’ championship, playing and scoring in every game during the 2010 title run despite battling illness.
And while her junior season began on a sour note with an injured ankle, Koemans pushed herself to come back — likely sooner than she should have — and proved to be a key component in the area’s only CIF Southern Section Division I girls’ soccer championship and the aforementioned greatest season.
But Koemans is the 2012 All-Area Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year. Unfortunately for her and the Tologs, during an ultra-successful four-year varsity run, Koemans’ senior season was her team’s least successful in that span. However, it was likely the one in which she displayed her worth, her leadership and her talents best.
“After being decimated by injuries all season and falling out of the national top 50, Breeana led us back to the brink of a third Mission League championship and a final season national ranking of No. 48,” Pace says. “I think her accomplishments in bringing along the younger players bodes well for another top-50 ranking next season, as well as a run at a Mission League title.”
Despite losing two-time All-Area Player of the Year Natalie Zeenni to graduation, the Tologs were still set to return nearly every starter from 2011’s championship run. But then knee injuries hit the team like a plague, taking out All-Area standouts Katie Johnson, Tera Trujillo and Krista Meaglia for the season. Thereafter the injuries still mounted, with the likes of Jill Jacobs and Savanah Viola taken down among others here and there and club standouts such as Kayla Mills and Hanna Armendariz missing games, as well. But Koemans, who would finish her career tying school records for games played (95) and games started (94), was the constant, playing every game, scoring a team-leading 15 goals to go with 12 assists. In many ways, as Koemans went, Sacred Heart went, evidenced by the fact that she had a point in 15 of the team’s 21 games in its 13-5-3 season, including scoring or assisting on 10 game-winners and playing a role in 50% of the team’s overall scores.
“With Katie and Krista out for the season, Breeana had a target on her back,” Pace says. “That target grew even larger when Kayla missed six games due to National Team commitments and injuries took Jill Jacobs and Savannah Viola out of the lineup. Everyone we played knew who Breeana was and they keyed on her. Still, it didn’t matter. Put her on the field and the offense scored. The bigger the opponent, the more important the game, the better she was.”
Already shouldering the target on her back, Koemans also had to deal with the fact that Johnson, who she’d played with for the previous three seasons, was gone and Koemans was responsible for building an all new chemistry and leading the offense, while Katelyn Almeida and Alexa Montgomery were doing much the same on defense.
“Breanna and I really had a very special chemistry. Especially since we played together since we were freshmen,” Johnson says. “It was hard for me on the sidelines, so I know it was probably even harder for her in the game.
“She did a great job, as well as Katelyn and Alexa, of being the seniors and holding the team together.”
Indeed, Koemans did her best at every turn and until the final whistle.
On senior night against archrival Harvard-Westlake in the teams’ league finale, it was Koemans who scored twice in leading the short-handed Tologs to a 2-2 tie with the league champions. She scored on a penalty kick and then a free kick that some are still marveling at — you can see it for yourself on Youtube.
“I was just amazed at how she kicked it and how it turned,” Armendariz said. “I was so surprised it went in.”
The kick, which was taken 35 yards away from the net and roughly five yards outside the near post, began to hook left before spectacularly curving right and then off the hand of the diving goalkeeper.
And even in a bitter, season- and Tologs career-ending loss to Capistrano Valley in the first round of the playoffs, Koemans had a final triumph, tallying a second-half goal and leading a comeback into overtime.
“She actually motivates us,” Armendariz says. “She was the one who stepped up and got us to push through.”
When it all started for Koemans, she was a freshman stunned that she had made the starting lineup at Flintridge Sacred Heart.
Fact is, as one of 10 children she was the first in her family to go to a private school and, on top of that, after playing just one season of club soccer, she made the cut and became a varsity starter.
“When I came to Sacred Heart, I didn’t know anyone,” Koemans says. “I’m not the kind of kid who goes to a private school.”
But in the end, she was the kind of kid who left a lasting image and a legacy that won’t soon be forgotten or duplicated.
Evidence enough is when you ask her to reflect upon her fondest memory.
“You think I’m gonna say [winning the] Division I [title], but I’m gonna say winning the regional. Maybe winning Mission League for the first time,” she contemplates.
Indeed, it’s an arduous task to pick just one. In reality, though, that’s what Koemans did for four years, she picked just one. She picked playing soccer for Flintridge Sacred Heart above anything else.
“For me, that’s my school,” she says. “The priority for me was the high school team. I didn’t have too many conflicts and if I did, I moved them out of the way.”
And in doing so, she reaped the benefits along with her teammates.
“It’s gonna be something I’ll never forget,” says Koemans who was the co-Mission League Most Valuable Player this season and an All-CIF selection for the second time. “I’m so thankful for Sacred Heart and my soccer career.”
It was a career that saw her garner All-Area and All-Mission League honors after every season.
It was a career in which she walked away from a team that won the only two league titles in program history and went an incredible 73-13-12 during her four seasons and 12-4 in the postseason.
It was a career in which she scored an amazing 53 goals and a school-record 47 assists.
But in the end, it was a career that saw Koemans walk away from Flintridge Sacred Heart as the area’s best.