LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Its first-ever Mission League title already claimed, the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team’s onus in the last week of league play was holding on to its No. 1 ranking in CIF Southern Section Division II and maintaining some positive momentum heading into next week’s postseason.
While a pair of ties certainly wasn’t what the Tologs set out for, it was certainly better than the contrary, as Sacred Heart found itself trailing with time running out on two occasions this week before senior Izzy Johnson came through in the clutch, the latest coming on Wednesday, as Johnson’s score in the 75th minute rallied the Tologs to a 1-1 tie with Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
“I think we got a little too comfortable, a little lazy,” said Johnson of her team’s play on Wednesday and on Monday in a 2-2 tie at Louisville in which she scored the match-tying goal with 15 minutes left.
More than anything, Wednesday’s affair came down to Flintridge Sacred Heart’s inability to cash in on its chances, as it took 16 shots, including 11 in the second half with three coming in one sequence that had the Tologs bench wondering aloud how one of them wasn’t converted.
“I haven’t felt good with the way we played the last two games,” Sacred Heart co-Coach Frank Pace said. “We haven’t played with urgency in the first half.
“It’s gonna have to change.”
Sacred Heart (15-4-4, 7-1-2 in league) finished off its finest regular season in program history with its tie against Notre Dame (2-2-5 in league). Nevertheless, it enters the postseason having given up three goals in its last two games, more than it had in its previous eight league matches combined. Notre Dame’s score came in the 39th minute when a Tologs defender lost possession to the Knights’ Morgan Ritter, who sprinted into a one-on-one with Sacred Heart goalie Dominique Oro and kicked in a 1-0 lead.
Still, led by Pip Harragin and Natalie Zeeni, the defense was solid, allowing just three shots, all in the first half. The statistic was a bit deceiving, however, as Notre Dame strung together sizable spans in which it controlled possession.
But in the second half, the Tologs came out firing. The best example came with a sequence in which Katie Johnson, Tera Trujillo and Breeana Koemans took shots. All of them were up close, all of them were strong chances and all of them were saved.
Eventually the barrage ceased and Notre Dame began controlling possession once again.
But it swung back the way of the Tologs, as Sacred Heart defender Sam Norton played a ball up to the attacking third. Izzy Johnson tried to head in a shot, but it was deflected to Harragin, who passed it back to Johnson, who carefully took her time and tapped in a shot on an open net.
“I didn’t want to kick it too hard,” she said. “The way it was going with our luck, I would’ve shot it over the net.”
As for the way things are going, Pace and co-Coach Kathy Desmond are looking to change that before Thursday’s first round.
“We kind of just rested on our laurels,” Desmond said. “We have to be who we are, that’s what got us here.
“We just need to go back to hard work.”