NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Clutching the trophy the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team had just won in the inaugural Davitt Cup — an annual nonleague clash with Crescenta Valley — Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace said he had just told his players their goal should be to never relinquish it during their school careers.
The way the Tologs, whose core consists mainly of sophomores and juniors, firmly controlled Friday night's 3-0 win at Glendale Community College, that may not be a far-fetched goal.
With all due respect to Crescenta Valley, a well-regarded playoff team of the past several seasons in its own right, Sacred Heart's reigning Southern California Regional Division III-champion squad freely flexed the offensive muscle and defensive depth that has it ranked among the top teams in CIF Southern Section Division I.
"Our preseason prepares us for our postseason, so we try to play the toughest teams out there," said first-year Falcons Coach Jorden Schulz, whose team (1-3-1) is ranked 10th in Division II. "They're the best team we've played so far."
Sacred Heart (2-0) which is ranked seventh in Division I, got two goals from junior forward Katie Johnson, who's now got six of her team's seven tallies on the year. The Tologs also got a goal from junior defender Katelyn Almeida, who, along with the back line of Alyssa Conti, Natalie Zeenni and Alexa Montgomery held the Falcons to their fourth straight shutout.
"We know [Crescenta Valley's] a good team, they're always a good team, they're tough to break down defensively," Pace said. "We had the benefit of getting reports on them from Monday and Wednesday, so we came in with an idea of how we were going to attack them.
"We got the first goal early which sort of opened things up."
Known for its own sturdy defense, Crescenta Valley had only allowed a total of two goals in its previous four matches, but found itself quickly down, 2-0, after Johnson twice was able to handle a ball played up from Krista Meaglia and fight her way through the Falcons' defense for goals.
Johnson's first goal came just four minutes into the match and her second came in the 13th minute. After that, Pace said his team lost its focus for a while, although that was scarcely evident in the flow of the match, which saw Sacred Heart win the possession battle and outshoot Crescenta Valley, 6-2, in the first half.
"We had lots of great looks and lots of great shots and we couldn't finish, but we've only really spent three days together as a team," said Pace, whose top players were competing at the club level in North Carolina until this week. "[The club stuff] is done and out of the way. Our mental focus isn't yet what we would like it to be, but we've got a lot of talent and we won on talent and familiarity with each other."
Almeida scored amid a chaotic scene in the goalbox on a corner kick, deflecting Conti's kick with a header into the lower corner of the goal with 21 minutes left in the match.
"They've got heart," Schulz, who got six saves from Jessi Magallon, said of her team. "It doesn't matter what the score is, they're going to fight. A lot of teams would give up if they get a goal scored on them, but we didn't. They've got very skilled players, so you've got to play them as hard as you can and go with the flow, I guess."