FSHA takes fifth place

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — The script of Tuesday’s fifth-place match of the 2008 Los Tacos Holiday Festival was unfolding in eerily familiar fashion for the Flintridge Sacred Heart girls’ soccer team as the second half wound down.

Having seen a one-goal lead vanish in the waning moments of a critical pool-play match against La Salle the previous afternoon, the Tologs found themselves right back in the precarious position of defending the slimmest of margins down the stretch following freshman forward Katie Johnson’s tally in the 39th minute.

But the defense held firm this time, shutting out Burbank for a 1-0 win and giving the Tologs, who defeated Desert Christian, 4-0, in their final pool-play match earlier on Tuesday, their second straight win after a pair of ties decided by shootouts on Monday

“We made a couple of defensive adjustments after the game [against La Salle] and they worked this morning [against Desert Christian],” Sacred Heart co-Coach Frank Pace said. “Just little formation changes. We moved a couple of people around and tried to take a little bit better advantage of some of the skills that some of the kids had.

“We progressed with it today and now we need to progress and get ready for [Mission League play] next week.”

Burbank, which played without former All-Area Player of the Year Kristina Amela after Amela received a red card in the Bulldogs’ earlier 3-1 loss to eventual tournament champion La Salle, got few opportunities to tie the match and few good looks at the goal on the game.

On the match’s only goal, junior midfielder Danielle Molina touched a pass ahead to Johnson, who beat her defender to the ball and cut an arc across the penalty box to the right of the goal, drawing Burbank goalkeeper Danielle Reed (seven saves) out.

Johnson quickly got around Reed’s challenge and knocked a right-foot shot into the vacant goal.

“I’m concerned about the offense,” said Pace, who got goals from Johnson, Tera Trujillo, Pip Harragin and Alexa Montgomery against Desert Christian, but saw his team limited to a single goal in each of its other three tournament games. “We’re getting the shots and we work on finishing every day, but when there’s pressure we’ve gotta do better.

“If we can get over that hump, we’ll be fine, but if we can’t, we’re gonna struggle for the rest of the season.”

Sacred Heart (8-3-2) finished the tournament 2-1-1 and was the only team that La Salle, a 1-0 winner over Royal in the title game, did not beat in pool play.

The Tologs are now 12-0-2 all-time in the four-year history of the tournament, but have won the title only twice.

 GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at gabriel.rizk@latimes.com.

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