NORTHEAST GLENDALE — The setting was different, but the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team had been in the exact same spot before — up a goal on Harvard-Westlake, with plenty of soccer left to be played.
But whereas a momentary lapse allowed the Wolverines to come back and earn a tie on Jan. 6 at Harvard-Westlake, this time the Tologs filled the final 44 minutes of Monday night’s Mission League rematch with pretty near flawless soccer from end to end of Sartoris Field.
Katie Johnson provided the Tologs with a first-half goal before the team kept up its defensive edge and stepped up its offensive aggression even further in the second half, leading to a Krista Meaglia goal in the 66th minute, to hold off the Wolverines for a 2-0 win.
“We told them it was the exact same thing [at halftime],” Tologs co-Coach Kathy Desmond said in reference to Sacred Heart’s previous meeting with Harvard-Westlake. “No Harvard-Westlake team ever quits and [the Tologs] know that. A lot of it’s mental, they’ve been dominant for so long and we’ve been there, but just never [able to get] over the top. You have to think to yourself, ‘We’re defending Mission League champs, not them.’”
And, with the win, Sacred Heart (12-1-2, 3-0-2 in league) which entered the game ranked No. 2 — one spot behind Harvard-Westlake (12-1-3, 4-1-1) — in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 rankings, greatly improved its chances of defending its league title over the home stretch of the campaign.
“[This win] is pretty big, [the Wolverines] are one of the biggest competitors we have in this league,” Johnson said. “If we beat them, we can show that we’re strong competitors here.”
Johnson put the Tologs on their way to victory when she took a ball off a Harvard-Westlake pass deflected by Breeana Koemans and made a run straight to the goal in the 36th minute.
With a defender on her hip, Johnson fired a shot from just inside the penalty box that the lunging Wolverines goalkeeper Reba Magier (six saves) got a hand on, but couldn’t stop from reaching the back of the net.
Sacred Heart came out for the second half as if it were the team in need of a score, keeping pressure on the Wolverines’ goal and finally getting the all-important insurance tally on a left-to-right shot by Meaglia assisted by Jill Jacobs.
Tologs goalkeeper Dominique Oro was hardly tested until the final six minutes of the match, when she made a pair of tough saves. Sarah Teegarden, Natalie Zeenni and Katelyn Almeida keyed a standout defensive performance for Sacred Heart.
“We had to get [the last game] behind us and make sure we finished our shots because we don’t get many shots against them,” Johnson said. “We had to work hard because they were pressuring pretty hard, too.”