LOS ANGELES — Emerging from the gauntlet that is the Mission League with an outright title is no easy task, no matter how talented the team.
Thus, a few fortuitous bounces certainly help.
And on Monday evening at Occidental College, the Tologs showcased the eye-popping skill that has had them ranked among the top teams in the country all season and got a bit of a lucky bounce to help them along to wrapping up an outright league title with a 2-1 win over visiting Chaminade.
"It feels more like a relief," said Sacred Heart co-Coach Kathy Desmond, whose team won the program's second league title after claiming its first in 2009. "Mission League's tough. … The league's tough and it prepares us for playoffs.
"We have three goals for the season, so one of them has been accomplished."
The next step toward reaching a second goal is the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs and the quest to win a program-first division title, as well as earning a repeat trip to the CIF Southern California Division III Regional Championships and the hopeful defense of last year's title. Playoff pairings will be released by the CIF offices on Monday, with the Tologs assured of hosting a first-round match later in the week.
Last season, despite going unbeaten in league, the Tologs finished second behind rival Harvard-Westlake, but this time around Sacred Heart (16-1-1, 8-1-1 in league) locked up the league crown all for itself as Breeana Koemans opened up the scoring with a goal in the sixth minute and an own goal after a Savannah Viola corner kick in the 40th minute stood as the game-winner.
"It feels so great," said Koemans of clinching the title outright. "Now we can put another number on the banner [at school]."
Koemans finished a beautiful sequence to put the Tologs up 1-0.
It began with a pass inside around midfield from Jillian Jacobs to Koemans, who played the ball back out on the left wing to Jacobs, who then sent a sensational high ball to Katie Johnson. The pass fell in front of a streaking Johnson who then worked her way into the box and then dribbled left and took the Chaminade keeper with her before crossing the ball back inside to Koemans for the score.
"That gave us a lot of momentum," said Koemans of the early score.
Sacred Heart was dominant during the first half, outshooting the Eagles (14-4-2, 5-3-1) by a 16-3 margin in the first 40 minutes and by a 26-5 tally for the game.
The defense, keyed by the play of Katelyn Almeida, Kayla Mills, Natalie Zeenni and Alexa Montgomery, was likewise stellar in the first half as everything was clicking for the Tologs except their finishing.
The lead held at 1-0 as Chaminade sustained plenty of quality Sacred Heart scoring chances, including a shot by Krista Meaglia on an exposed net that was saved by a field player.
Finally in the last minute of the first half, Viola put a corner out in front of the Chaminade net where it pinballed around and went in off an Eagles player.
For roughly the first 20 minutes of the second half, Sacred Heart's play faltered and it culminated with Katyee Wilson's header for a score in the 53rd minute.
Sacred Heart survived another precarious situation when a 50-50 ball was battled for just a few feet in front of the goal line that saw Tologs netminder Samantha Dier run out to fight for. Mills shielded her mark brilliantly to disallow a shot from behind taken to quell the scoring chance.
Not long after, the Tologs began to reassert themselves on offense with more than a few near misses from the likes of Sarah Teegarden, Johnson and Koemans, among others.
Nonetheless, Sacred Heart did finish on the bigger goal at hand by wrapping up the league title.
"[Co-Coach] Frank [Pace] turned to me at the beginning of the game and said, 'This is a pretty good high school soccer team,'" Desmond said. "And they are."