Another tale of Tologs triumph

The top 10 high school games from the 2010-11 season were selected by the sports writers of the Glendale News-Press.

1 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer defeats Esperanza, 1-0, OT, March 1, 2011

"Off the bench and into the annals of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy history.

Tologs senior forward Alyssa Conti did not begin overtime of Tuesday afternoon's CIF Southern Section Division I semifinal on the field, but she ended it there.

Propelled by the fortuitous right foot of Conti in the 83rd minute of an overtime nailbiter at Esperanza High, third-seeded Sacred Heart defeated No. 2 Esperanza, 1-0, to advance to the program's first-ever CIF Southern Section championship final.

'I am so excited right now I can't even put it into words,' said Conti, who took a ball on the right wing from junior forward Breeana Koemans and went high with her shot for arguably the biggest goal in Sacred Heart soccer chronicle. 'It was a great team effort, though, we all worked really hard on the field and it comes out with a good goal in the end, I guess.

'I was making sure this was not my last game for this team. I'm not ready to leave.'"

Grant Gordon

When all was said and done during the Tologs' magical season, their thrilling overtime triumph on the road against Esperanza was not the biggest win in program history — or the season, in that regard.

But had it not been for the cardiac kick of Alyssa Conti, the perfect pass of Breeana Koemans, the sliding save of Natalie Zeenni or the overall host of dramatics put forth by the Tologs against Esperanza, the CIF Southern Section Division I championship that ultimately defined Flintridge Sacred Heart's season would not have been possible.

And as far as dramatics, circumstance and clutch performances, one would be hardpressed to find a more suitable example than what played out over 83 exhilarating minutes on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in Orange County when the Tologs beat Esperanza, 1-0.

"Esperanza was exhilarating for so many reasons," said Sacred Heart co-Coach Frank Pace. "Few gave us a chance, but they didn't know what we knew. Coming through the Mission League, we were used to playing great teams in a hostile environment. I felt we had the better run of play throughout the game. I was also confident that we were ready should the game go to PKs. Still, when Alyssa knocked that goal home, she created a memory that will last a lifetime for all who were there."

It was Conti, off a Koemans pass, that booted in the game's only goal as Sacred Heart defeated the then-defending champions, 1-0, just three minutes into sudden-death overtime.

Conti, who began overtime on the bench before being subbed in, also had one of the best opportunities in regulation, but misfired. Just minutes later, the Tologs almost gave up an own goal before Zeenni slid to the rescue to clear a ball before crashing into the goal post.

"Zeenni saved my butt," said junior goalkeeper Lindsey Espe after the game. "I almost kissed her."

2 Flintridge Sacred Heart soccer defeats San Clemente, 1-0, March 4

"With just 10 seconds separating Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's soccer team from realizing its ultimate goal, junior goalie Lindsey Espe secured the ultimate of victories.

With little more than 11 minutes remaining, sophomore Krista Meaglia made it all possible.

Meaglia booted in a low shot in the 68th minute to propel Sacred Heart to a 1-0 victory over top-seeded San Clemente on Friday night to win the program's first-ever CIF Southern Section Division I championship at Mission Viejo High.

'I don't think words can describe it,' said Meaglia of her feeling after winning the championship on a goal that came to be after Jillian Jacobs played a high ball up from midfield to forward Katie Johnson, who then headed a ball over a double-team to Meaglia. 'I just saw the opportunity, I just shot it.'

A season after falling in the Division II semifinals, the third-seeded Tologs (21-1-1), representing a school with just 400 students, ran a gauntlet of five teams from Orange Country, including defending champion and second-seeded Esperanza in the semifinals, before upending San Clemente (19-4-7), the second-ranked team in the nation, according to ESPN Rise.

'Amazing,' Johnson said. 'This is one of the best days ever.'"

Grant Gordon

No team in the history of area girls' soccer had ever done what Sacred Heart did on this cool Friday night.

After a postseason in which the Tologs looked like the superior team in every one of their matches, they ran into a San Clemente squad with championship experience that firmly controlled the majority of the opening half. But in the second half, Sacred Heart put up a fight and Krista Meaglia scored the most significant goal in Tologs history, as the Tologs won, 1-0, for the area's first-ever CIF Southern Section Division I girls' soccer title and the program's first CIF division crown.

Meaglia scored in the 69th minute, but it was the team's second straight shutout, with both efforts coming against the tournament's top two seeds, that was the true story.

Goalie Lindsey Espe once again came up big to secure the shutout, notching seven saves, including one in the final seconds, but just as big, if not bigger, were the two saves made by two-time All-Area Girls' Soccer Player of the Year Natalie Zeenni along the back line. Zeenni teamed with Tera Trujillo, Katelyn Almeida and Alexis Montgomery on defense to secure the scoreless outing and the historic win.

"I knew it was gonna be a really tough game from the beginning," Zeenni said that night. "I knew I was gonna have to bring it."

And bring it they did, bringing a CIF championship all the way home from one final trip down to Orange County.

3 Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball defeats Laguna Blanca, 3-2, May 10

"Perhaps it was desperation, or maybe it was a suddenly improved passing game, or it could've simply been the energy with which the Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball team began to play.

More than likely it was a little bit of them all, as Flintridge Prep played arguably its best when it was needed most, turning disaster into triumph in the process.

Down two games in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs, Flintridge Prep furiously rallied for a stunning 22-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-11, 15-10 win over host Laguna Blanca on Tuesday evening.

'I told the team, there are good wins and there are great wins,' Rebels Coach Sean Beattie said, "but when you're down two, facing elimination, that's a great win.'"

Grant Gordon

After struggling throughout much of the season to ever find its best form, the Rebels had to fall behind by two games with their season on the line in Santa Barbara to find it.

But they indeed found it, sparked by a renewed passing game and the big-time play of Kenyatta Smith and Jared Norsworthy, the Rebels came back for a 22-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-11, 15-10 CIF Southern Section Division V first-round win over a Laguna Blanca school playing in front of a loud home crowd.

"I told the kids this is the time to play for your hearts," Beattie said after the game, "because you've got nothing left after this."

Smith and Norsworthy, no strangers to playoff heroics on the hardwood, tallied a combined 32 kills and 14 blocks.

4 Crescenta Valley football defeats La Cañada, 38-34, Sept. 24, 2010

It was Mauro Lee that tallied 231 yards and three touchdowns, but it was the memory of Gordy Warnock that likely led the Falcons to the nonleague victory.

"It was a hard night," Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling said.

Playing just days after longtime assistant and former Falcons Coach Gordy Warnock had passed away, Crescenta Valley came back from 10 points down in the final eight minutes of the game to notch the victory.

5 St. Francis soccer defeats Thousand Oaks, 2-1, Feb. 18

Playoff dramatics are nothing new for the St. Francis soccer team nor for former All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year Eric Verso.

"A lot of guys get a little nervous in the big games," Verso said, "but those are the moments I play for, this is why I play soccer."

Verso scored the game's first goal in the 57th minute, but Thousand Oaks dramatically tied the match — a CIF Southern Section Division I first-round tilt — with just four minutes to go in regulation.

But in the 78th minute, St. Francis' Eric Bocanegra drew three defenders with him as he made a run to the right before bringing the ball inside the penalty box and dishing to Verso, who scored the game-winner.

"Eric had one minute of composure amid the chaos while everybody was running around," Golden Knights Coach Glen Appels said. "That one minute of composure was the difference in the game."

6 St. Francis baseball defeats Chaminade, 5-4, April 5

Things looked a bit bleak for the Golden Knights, who trailed, 4-3, in the bottom of the seventh innings against powerful Chaminade, which was undefeated in league and ranked No. 2 in the division, at Jackie Robinson Field.

With one swing, David Olmedo-Barrera changed St. Francis' fortunes in what might have arguably been St. Francis' biggest win of the season.

Olmedo-Barrera delivered a two-run single with two outs to give the Golden Knights the Mission League win.

"It doesn't get any better than that," St. Francis Coach Brian Esquival said.

7 Flintridge Sacred Heart soccer defeats Aliso Niguel, 0-0 (4-3), Feb. 22

The Tologs dominated the run of play in both regulation and overtime, but couldn't get a goal to fall and the match — and the Tologs' high playoff hopes — were in jeopardy in a shootout.

Co-Coaches Frank Pace and Kathy Desmond elected to go with reserve goalie Lindsey Espe and Espe came up huge.

"I honestly don't even know what to say, that was an incredible feeling," said Espe after the game.

Espe came up with three saves in penalty kicks, including the game-clincher after Tera Trujillo scored the game winner.

8 Temescal Canyon girls' water polo defeats Crescenta Valley, 10-9, Feb. 23

Crescenta Valley came within a goal of advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division V finals, falling to Temescal Canyon, 10-9, in the semifinals, but not after erasing a 7-2 deficit early in the third quarter.

"We just thought about it during halftime and we were like, we have to come back, and go as hard as we can and not give up," said Kim Fraisse, who finished with six goals. "We did our best and coming back up that much was very good for us."

After scoring on a man-advantage to bring Crescenta Valley back within four, Fraisse drew an ejection and a five-meter shot with 3:12 left in the third. She was blocked by Titans goalie Lina Medeiros, who had an excellent game with nine saves, but Fraisse relentlessly pursued the rebound, outhustling the pair of Titans that flanked her at the five-meter mark to secure the ball and draw another ejection and five-meter in the process. She buried that one to give the Falcons their first shot of momentum of the second half. The push continued in the fourth quarter when the Falcons' defense kept the Titans scoreless over four minutes. Christine Cho beat Medeiros with a shot into the upper left corner with 1:49 left for the Falcons' third unanswered goal, keeping hope alive for Crescenta Valley. The dramatic comeback was kept at bay when Temescal Canyon scored a late, clinching goal moments later.

9 Flintridge Prep defeats Muir, 47-44, to win CIF championship, March 5

The top-seeded Rebels overcame a six-point halftime deficit to knock off third-seeded Muir, 47-44, in the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA championship game at Mater Dei High.

It was the program's first CIF title and the Rebels got a big performance from Harvard University-bound Kenyatta Smith. Smith, the reigning All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year, finished with 15 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. Teammate Jared Norsworthy, plagued by foul trouble, wound up with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Norsworthy put the Rebels ahead, 45-44, with a free throw at the 2:40 mark and Muir's Dion Nelson missed a three-point attempt at the other end. Smith rebounded the miss, heaved a long outlet pass to streaking freshman point guard Robert Cartwright for a layup and a 47-44 lead with 2:00 left.

Muir's three-point attempt at the buzzer missed, touching off a midcourt celebration for the Rebels.

10 Glendale defeats Culver City, 2-2 (5-4)

With sophomore goalkeeper Aris Yeghiazaryan at home nursing a cold, the Glendale High boys' soccer team was forced to make other plans with their goaltending situation leading up to its CIF Southern Section Division IV wild-card playoff home match against Culver City.

The Nitros went with goalkeeper James Mizuki, who injured his ankle early in the first half. Coach Tulio Marroquin scrambled for his cell phone in hopes of enticing Yeghiazaryan to compete in the match. Yeghiazaryan arrived in time to take over in net in the first half and made three huge saves, including the game-clincher directly on the heels of Michael Kopooshian's penalty kick, that gave Glendale a 5-4 lead in the shootout.

Alan Ghazarians scored a pair of second-half goals to help the Nitros overcome a 2-0 deficit.

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