Spotlight bound to find Meaglia

On a team decorated with national rankings and CIF glory, the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team boasts a star-studded cast.

The likes of Katie Johnson, Natalie Zeenni, Breeana Koemans, Tera Trujillo, Alexa Montgomery and on and on have been showered with All-CIF, All-Mission League, All-Area and all-everything else accolades, drawing praise and interest from opposing coaches and colleges, headlines and mention from this newspaper and that internet site.

And then there's Krista Meaglia, all, "about 5 foot 2" of her.

She's unassuming and quiet, a diminutive sophomore that the spotlight hasn't found.

But to hear her coaches and teammates at Sacred Heart tell it, she's one of the most gifted players they have. And, according to Koemans, she's the Tologs' "secret weapon."

"I think it's kind of a threat for us," Koemans says. "The fact that we have a player that no one really knows, but is very good helps us a lot."

Meaglia has helped the Tologs to new heights in her two years with Sacred Heart, as the team earned a first-ever berth in the CIF Southern Section Division II semifinals a season ago and will now play in a program-first CIF Southern Section Division I title game when the Tologs face San Clemente tonight at 7:30 at Mission Viejo High. And while outside recognition certainly hasn't been heaped upon Meaglia for helping the Tologs get there, her teammates surely recognize what she's done.

"She is our center-mid playmaker, when we need her, she steps up," Koemans says. "She starts the speed of the play and brings it forward. We work off her. Her passes are what get us going. Her passes are perfect."

Like Meaglia herself, the sophomore's two goals and eight assists on the season don't jump out at you. But more often than not, as Koemans alludes to, Meaglia is the one that starts the play, she's the one that makes the pass before the assist.

"Her touch is impeccable," Pace says. "Her vision, her speed, the way she impacts a game; she's really the engine that drives the offense.

"She's the little engine that could."

She could and she has, whether on the wing or in the midfield, she's shown her talents and her versatility.

"She's a really solid player and can play all over the field, so she's a diverse player," says Zeenni, one of the team's senior captains, along with Alyssa Conti. "Whenever we need an outside mid, she's able to play there, or center mid. She plays everything, basically."

The 15-year-old Meaglia says she's been playing soccer since she was just 4. And she's been playing varsity soccer with the Tologs from her first day there.

"It was actually a great experience," she says of playing on the varsity squad as a freshman. "But it was really intimidating.

"I was pretty confident [of my skills], but I was more nervous than anything cause they were older and stronger."

Though Meaglia's gotten a year older, she's still not all that much bigger. But on top of her skill set, she's also showcased the intangibles to garner respect and notice from the get-go.

"She's a quiet kid off the field," Pace says. "On the field, she's an assassin. She hates to lose, she'll do anything and everything possible to win a game.

"She gained the kids' respect immediately because she played so hard."

As a freshman, Meaglia's role was increased when then-senior Danielle Molina was injured and a midfield vacancy was to be had. She finished her season with a pair of goals and five assists.

"Her freshman year, she came in and did really well," Koemans says.

Her sophomore year has been much the same, only better, following along the same lines of the team's success.

For the most part, Meaglia's been a constant for the Tologs. Perhaps the best example of her consistency was in the Tologs' dramatic 0-0 (4-3) win against Aliso Niguel in the second round of the playoffs.

With most of the offense struggling while dealing with Aliso Niguel's longball style, Meaglia's game remained at a high.

"Against Aliso Niguel, she was the [offensive] player of the game," Koemans says. "I feel like she's a very consistent player. When we weren't playing our best that game, she still was."

And so it goes that Meaglia might just be forcing people to take note.

"I think that anybody that's seen us play notices her," Pace says.

But the pomp and circumstance is something Meaglia admittedly stays away from.

"I don't like being in the spotlight, I'd rather be calm and humble," she says. "Sometimes I see cocky players and I don't like their attitude and I try and stay away from that."

Whether the spotlight will ever rest upon her remains to be seen. For now, though, she continues to be an unpleasant surprise for the opposition.

"She just surprises people," Pace says. "People look at her and they're like she's gonna beat us?"

But she does.

"Everyone gets beat by her," Trujillo says. "Because nobody expects the little pipsqueak to get by them, but she squeaks by everyone and beats them."

Thus, on a team of standouts, Meaglia has certainly shown she deserves to be among them.

"Me and Natalie and Katie Johnson and all of us, we all think she's made an impact," Trujillo says. "She's amazing. I think she's an amazing player."

For now anyway, Meaglia's not quite ready to embrace her role as an amazing player. Instead, she's more than happy to keep being unassuming, a quiet sophomore doing her best to simply be a contributor on a team striving to be a CIF champion.

"I think every one of us has a role with the team," she says, "and we all contribute."

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