The top 10 high school games from the 2009-10 season were selected by the sports writers of the Glendale News-Press.
1 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer defeats Saugus, 3-2, Feb. 26, 2010:
"It's likely that few, if any, gathered at Sartoris Field on Friday afternoon gave Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's soccer team a chance with seemingly only 40 minutes left in its season.
Down two goals to the defending CIF champion — the very same team that had ended the Tologs' season a year prior — Sacred Heart had been dominated to a degree that had not occurred previously this season.
"All that was going through our minds was how are we gonna get through this," said Tologs sophomore forward Breeana Koemans.
And so it went that the stage was set for the Tologs to embark on a comeback that was borderline improbable, quite positively historic and all together amazing."
It was historic, it was dramatic, it was a comeback, it was steeped in circumstance and back story.
In more ways than one, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's 3-2 comeback win over Saugus in the CIF Southern Section Division II quarterfinals was a game and a story to be remembered.
Pitted against the division's defending champions, who had eliminated them a season earlier, Sacred Heart found itself down, 2-0, at halftime after having been outplayed to a degree that had never occurred before in the season.
"We were surprised to be down, 2-0, there's no question about that," Sacred Heart co-Coach Frank Pace said. "I think we were intimidated a little by them."
But at halftime, Pace and co-Coach Kathy Desmond decided to remain positive and reserved.
Junior defender Natalie Zeenni would have none of that.
"Zeenni then went crazy," Pace recalled. "She expressed exactly what Kathy and I were thinking."
The fiery speech paid immediate dividends, as the second half was all Tologs, with Jillian Jacobs cutting the score to 2-1 just five minutes in and Breeana Koemans adding the equalizer three minutes later.
Sacred Heart had pushed Zeenni up to midfield, the Tologs changed from three forwards to four and defenders Alexa Montgomery and Sarah Teegarden were symbolic of the team in going from first halves in which they were out of sorts to second halves in which they played like the All-CIF players they were.
"I would say [the team] came of age in that second half," Pace said. "I think they realized they were as good as anybody."
A game-winning Teegarden tally proved all of that, as the defending CIF champs walked away in stunned disbelief, as the Tologs celebrated an improbable comeback that sent the program to its first-ever CIF semifinal.
Indeed, for 40 minutes, Sacred Heart had been dominated. But in the final 40 minutes they pulled off a comeback for the ages.
Said Pace: "It was clearly the greatest 40 minutes of soccer in our school's history."
2 Palmdale football defeats St. Francis, 49-42 (2OT), Nov. 27, 2009:
"On this frigid Friday night in the desert, Palmdale beat St. Francis, 49-42, in a double-overtime classic. Albeit, a classic from a Palmdale point of view and a surreal letdown from the St. Francis sideline's vantage point.
It was fourth down, with 10 yards to go and a season on the line, when St. Francis' one-armed quarterback, Justin Posthuma, did what he's done all season, as he put his body on the line, his heart on his sleeve and the game on his shoulders, scrambling forward and leaping for a first down and the hopes of a continued season. Instead, that's when it all ended so suddenly. Posthuma went up with a chance to keep a season alive, but came down with the ball resting in the grasp of the opposition."
Mere seconds after the final play of his team's season, St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds made a beeline for his quarterback, Justin Posthuma, after the latter had likely played the game of his life only to have it end with an airborne leap gone wrong and a season's conclusion.
St. Francis had led by scores of 21-6 and 35-21 with Posthuma having ran for more than 100 yards and three touchdowns, while having also passed for two scores. But in a span of just 3:04, Palmdale tied the game in the fourth quarter, as a 98-yard Falcons kickoff return followed a 63-yard Posthuma touchdown run. After the kickoff return with 4:42 to go, Palmdale gambled with an onside kick, recovered it and used just five plays to tie the game at 35 with just over a minute to play.
Both teams traded scores in the first overtime, with the Falcons scoring first and Posthuma leaving his feet on the three and stretching his arms across the goal line to tie the game while taking a furious hit to the midsection.
But the momentum that had been snatched late by Palmdale remained with the home team in the second overtime, while St. Francis saw its stellar campaign come to a heartbreaking conclusion.
The game also marked the end of the storied St. Francis career of Dietrich Riley, the three-time reigning All-Area Football Player of the Year, who had 121 yards rushing in 13 carries and a fumble recovery on defense.
3 Hoover boys' water polo defeats Oxnard Pacifica, 23-21, Nov. 12, 2009:
"Through 28 minutes of nerve-wracking, nailbiting, back-and-forth water polo, Hoover High and visiting Oxnard Pacifica combined for 84 shots, 44 goals and four quarters of offensive insanity.
And when the water had finally settled at the Burbank High pool, it was the Tornadoes, led by standout Hakop Kaplanyan's 11 goals, that emerged with history in hand and a dramatic 23-21 victory over Pacifica in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs."
Defense was hard to come by, the drama never ceased and a historic trip to a first-ever quarterfinal appearance was had by the Hoover High boys' water polo team.
The match transpired as a goal-scoring free for all from the start to the finish, as Pacifica owned a 7-6 lead after the first period and the teams were deadlocked at 11 at the half before Hoover ended the third with a 16-14 lead after having taken its first lead of the match.
Led by standout Hakop Kaplanyan, who would go on to secure the state's all-time, single-season goals mark with 229, Hoover made history on the night, forging ahead into the quarters for the most successful season in the program's history and the most successful campaign in a long time for any Tornadoes sport.
"I just told myself, this team ain't gonna beat me, I just wanted to step up and win this for my team," said Kaplanyan, who scored his team's final three goals of the match, which saw him tie the contest, score the game-winner and provide a much-needed two-goal cushion. "[This win] means a lot. We're actually putting Hoover's name up on the charts. We're making history right now."
4 Flintridge Sacred Heart soccer defeats Francis Parker, 2-1, March 13:
"At times simply a stalemate between Sacred Heart's uncharacteristic, long-kicking, frenetic style and Francis Parker's methodical, bruising approach, the latter 3/4 of the match saw the Tologs toughen up and hang on for a 2-1 victory at Warren High in Downey, clinching the first-ever regional crown in program history."
Having never lost a Mission League contest during the season, the Tologs still took second. It was a shootout that ended their CIF Southern Section Division II title run in the semifinals.
But on this particular Friday night, the Tologs finally got the championship they desired, winning the CIF Southern California Division III Regional Championships.
After having decimated its first two tournament opponents by a combined 11-0 score, it certainly didn't come easy for Flintridge Sacred Heart against Francis Parker, though.
"I think that's the most physical game we've ever played," Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace said.
A bruising and bigger Francis Parker squad bulled its way to a 1-0 lead just three minutes in, but despite being taken out of its game and playing without its leading scorer — Katie Johnson — the Tologs rallied on goals by Jillian Jacobs and Breeana Koemans before holding on for the win and a first-ever CIF title of any kind for the program.
"I am so excited," Tologs midfielder Tera Trujillo said. "I'm going to go home and take a nice warm bath and plan out what finger my [regional] ring is going to go on."
5 St. Francis football defeats Loyola, 27-23, Oct. 23, 2009:
"Down three points with 4:30 left and 60 yards to go, the St. Francis High football team's offense seemed dead in the water.
The Golden Knights' star player was on the sideline and it didn't take a second look at a dejected Dietrich Riley laid out on a trainer's table to figure out he wasn't coming back in.
Not exactly the stuff storybook endings are made of, but, for St. Francis, there was still plenty of time for a rewrite.
One week ago, Justin Posthuma played the game of his life, but it wasn't enough for a win. On Friday, the senior quarterback teamed with sophomore receiver Travis Talianko to engineer a gritty 60-yard drive, capped by a three-yard touchdown catch by Talianko that spurred the Golden Knights to a dramatic, come-from-behind 27-23 nonleague victory over host Loyola at L.A. Valley College."
In a season full of nailbiting games and in a rivalry that had seen plenty of close contests, St. Francis got a monumental triumph against its Serra League counterpart.
Just 17 seconds remained on the clock when the ball was snapped to quarterback Justin Posthuma, who found Travis Talianko for the game-winner. It was the same pair that hooked up to convert on a huge fourth-and-eight play with only 45 seconds left in the game.
"Before the play, Justin told me this one's for you," Talianko said. "I told him, 'I'm not afraid to go up for it, I'm gonna get this one for you.'"
Just as dramatic was that the 60-yard drive to win the game came as the Golden Knights had totaled just 19 yards of offense previously in the second half after having taken a 20-14 halftime lead only to lose standout running back Dietrich Riley in the second half.
6 St. Francis soccer defeats West Torrance, 1-1 (5-4), Feb. 18: Having reached the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals and then going on to win the CIF Division III Regional Championships the season prior, St. Francis once again finished the regular season in fourth place in the Mission League and with few giving them a chance against third-seeded West Torrance in the first round of the postseason on the road.
But if West Torrance was looking past the Golden Knights, they were certainly penalized for their indiscretion.
Having fallen behind less than 10 minutes in, St. Francis rallied to tie the match with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, as Max Cadena converted a penalty kick after a West Torrance handball.
Sean Fitzpatrick then booted in the game-clincher in a shootout to send St. Francis on to the second round and West Torrance packing.
"I think the most important thing is our guys know if we put in the effort, we can play with anybody," Golden Knights Coach Glen Appels said after the game. "I don't think anyone came here saying it [was] something we wouldn't be able to do."
7 Glendale boys' water polo defeats Walnut, 11-9, Nov. 14, 2009: Holding a precarious 9-6 lead late in the CIF Southern Section Division VI quarterfinal, the upstart Nitros found themselves needing to stave off a surge from fourth-seeded Walnut. They were just able to do it, as Walnut got to within one at 9-8 before Glendale closed out a win that sent them back to the semifinals for the first time since 2000 and only the second time ever.
The victory was as much about surviving as anything, with Glendale goalie Haik Chatalyan tallying 14 saves to preserve the win and the season.
8 Crescenta Valley football defeats Santa Fe, 27-24, Nov. 21, 2009: It was a 24-yard field goal by Arian Abghari with just under 10 minutes to play that served as the game-winner, but it was a huge interception by Dai Dai McFadden with 44.5 seconds to play that stood as the game-clincher in the Falcons' CIF Southern Section Southeast Division first-round win.
In a game filled with huge momentum shifts from quarter to quarter, it was the Falcons who were reeling in the end, but found victory with McFadden's pick on the Falcons' 45.
9 Flintridge Sacred Heart volleyball defeats Orange Lutheran, 3-2, Nov. 10, 2009: Down two games to none, the Tologs rose from the brink of elimination to grab a huge 15-25, 23-25, 25-23, 27-25, 15-7 win in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA playoffs, bolstered by 27 kills and 16 digs from Camille Coffey.
The Tologs were down 22-20 in the third game and were up against match-point in the fourth, but fought their way back and to the second round.
10 Webb boys' water polo defeats Glendale, 18-14 (OT), Nov. 18, 2009: On the verge of securing a berth in the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship, Glendale held a 13-10 lead with less than two minutes remaining only to watch Webb, the eventual division champion, tie the match and send it to overtime with 11 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, Gor Asryan scored for the Nitros to make it 14-13, but after that, it was all Webb and it was all over for a Glendale High team that had put together one of the finest seasons in program lore under first-year Coach Forest Holbrook.
Others receiving votes: FSHA soccer stopped in semis by Beckman, 2-2 (4-2); St. Francis football comes back against Chaminade; CV boys' water polo outlasts Glendale in overtime league championship; Hoover football breaks losing streak against South Pasadena; St. Francis football edged out by Notre Dame; CV girls' hoops upends mighty Muir.