GLENDALE — With an unconventional and youthful lineup, the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team won an unconventional tournament for the first time in its long history.
Led by Breeana Koemans, one of just two varsity returners playing in the tournament, the Tologs won the 18th annual Travis Jackson 6-A-Side Tournament on Sunday at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
Koemans scored the game-winner in sudden death overtime to give Sacred Heart a 4-3 championship win over Palos Verdes.
"It was sort of like the new season started where the old one left off," said Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace in reference to his team's 2009-10 season, in which the program won its first-ever CIF Division III Southern California Regional Championships title, advanced to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division II semifinals and finished Mission League play unbeaten with all three accomplishments characterized by close contests and many come-from-behind efforts. "For us to end up winning this tournament against really exceptional high school talent is just an indication of how deep the program is right now."
Koemans, who had 10 goals in seven tournament contests, and Krista Meaglia, who had three goals, were the only Tologs playing in the tournament that were varsity mainstays during last season's championship run.
"Our intention was to take a look at other kids vying for varsity spots," Pace said. "We originally weren't gonna go [to the tournament] because so many of our kids were away."
Thus, with a cavalcade of All-Mission League, All-Area and All-CIF talent involved with club tournaments, a roster of players that won't necessarily even be on the varsity squad in the winter was able to propel the Tologs to the tournament title, the program's first in the 10 years it had appeared in the tournament.
"The younger kids did what nobody's been able to do in 10 years," Pace said.
In pool play, the Tologs defeated Long Beach Poly, 2-1, tied Culver City, 2-2, and then beat both El Rancho and La Mirada by 4-0 scores.
In knockout tournament play, Sacred Heart received a bye before defeating Estancia, 2-1, and South Torrance by the same score in the semifinals.
"I thought that would be as far as we could go," said Pace of drawing South Torrance in the semifinals.
But after prevailing against South Torrance, the Tologs took on Palos Verdes and won in dramatic fashion.
Krista Meaglia assisted her sister, Britni, on a match-tying goal with just one second left in regulation.
"It was pretty exciting," Pace said. "When we scored, the ref just shook his head and smiled."
After a scoreless first overtime, Koemans scored in sudden death when she took a pass with her back to the net, turned, made a fake to her right and put a left-footed shot inside the far post for the win.
Both Meaglia sisters scored three goals in the tournament, as did Miranda Saldivar, while Erin Quintana also added a goal. The defense, which was absent of All-Area Player of the Year Natalie Zeenni — who consequently helped her Real So Cal U17 club team to a U.S. Youth Soccer Region IV championship over the weekend — was anchored by Claire Kostelnik, Haley James and Lauren Kean. In goal for the entire tournament, allowing eight goals in seven contests, was Sami Dier.
Sacred Heart's defense was all the more impressive considering the format of the tournament, which is a collection of six-on-six matches, featuring five field players and a goalie on each side. The two-day, 30-team tournament also features no offsides, shortened fields and free substitutions during the run of play.