1 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy girls’ soccer: Just as no team equaled its unprecedented success during the 2010-11 season, no group of area high school athletes epitomized the concept of “team” better than the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team.
“The way our team was structured, it was always team first,” senior midfielder Alyssa Conti said. “We did so much stuff outside of soccer itself to really build team bonding and make sure we were there for each other on and off the field.
“We do it for each other, it wasn’t an individual thing.”
In addition to stellar talent, teamwork and unity led the Tologs to the greatest season in program history, highlighted by a 23-2-1 record, championships in the Mission League and CIF Southern Section Division I – the latter their first ever and the first in area history – and a runner-up finish in the CIF Southern California Division III Regional championships.
“Getting three months distance on it makes me appreciate even more the magnitude of what it is the kids accomplished,” Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace said. “To go in and beat the teams we beat, mostly on their field, really is an amazing accomplishment. There’s nothing subjective about what we did. …You just look at the scoreboard and see the scores. Nothing was given to us. Everything that we accomplished we earned this season.”
After getting as far as the Division II quarterfinals last season, the Tologs refused to be beaten in the section playoffs, blasting past Tesoro, 3-1, in the quarters before besting Esperanza, 1-0, on the road in overtime on March 1 en route to the championship game against San Clemente at Mission Viejo High on March 4.
The Tologs’ vaunted defense shut out the Tartans and claimed the Division I crown with a clutch goal from Krista Meaglia in the 69th minute for yet another thrilling 1-0 win.
“For a small school from the Valley, not from Orange County, it’s definitely not expected,” co-Coach Kathy Desmond said. “Everybody had the same goal in mind — Mission League, CIF, state. We got two out of three.”
Individual heroics frequently stood out as the most memorable moments of the campaign, and a different star seemed to steal the show on a nightly basis — from Conti’s game-winning goal in overtime of the sectional semifinal to Meaglia’s dagger against San Clemente — but every moment of singular glory was made possible by 80 minutes of solid team soccer.
“The biggest key of our team is that we all like each other,” junior forward Breanna Koemans said. “None of us had had any issues with each other; we were all friends on and off the field.
“We really love playing for each other, not just with each other.”
2 Crescenta Valley High boys’ swimming: The Falcons were a team built not just to win meets, but to win every individual event therein, which they often did during an undefeated regular dual-meet season that ended in the program’s 19th Pacific League title in a row.
As their dynastic status in league and past CIF credentials would indicate, the Falcons are certainly accustomed to fielding talented, winning teams, but this year’s incarnation will stand as one of CV’s most talent-laden of all time.
Spearheaded by the terrific trio of sophomores Young Tae Seo, Harrison Thai and junior Louis Wojciechowski and bolstered by considerable depth, veteran Coach Jan Sakonju had myriad tools at his disposal to formulate winning lineups.
The squad needed just one afternoon to rewrite the majority of the league record book at the league final meet at Burbank High on May 5, with its big three claiming a pair of individual marks apiece and the team breaking a total of seven.
The team placed third in the CIF Division II finals on May 14 at Belmont plaza pool in Long Beach, where Seo added two more titles to his personal collection in CIF-record fashion, Wojciechowski won his first CIF title and the Falcons claimed the 200-medley relay championship in record time.
Crescenta Valley was back at Belmont in force with eight swimmers in nine events at the CIF Masters meet three days later, where Seo capped his season with two more titles, as the Falcons claimed a total of three.
Seo, Thai and Wojciechowski earned All-American status and the team had 11 total All-American marks.
3 Crescenta Valley boys’ water polo: A huge target was fixed on the Falcons’ back coming into the season. They entered play as the top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Division V polls and the reigning Pacific League champions for the past two years.
The team was anchored by several key seniors, specifically Rane Colvin, Alan Dearman and Jack Snyder, that didn’t let the pressure faze them. Crescenta Valley made it to the semifinals of the Division V playoffs for the second straight year and won its third straight league crown, posting a 25-5, 8-0 in league, record in the process.
Crescenta Valley cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs with an 18-1 win over Los Altos and 15-6 victory over Palm Springs in the first and second rounds, respectively. The Falcons met their match in the semifinals, as Pasadena Poly upset them, 6-2.
Colvin hauled in first-team All-CIF Southern Section Division V honors, along with Dearman. Snyder was an All-CIF second-team selection.
4 Crescenta Valley girls’ water polo: Last year, the Falcons offense completely relied upon Kim Fraisse. When she had to sit out the first few games of the year with a sore shoulder, Crescenta Valley could have folded without their star.
Instead, the Falcons rose to the occasion and proved they were an all-around team this year. The early test came in handy because when Fraisse was double- or triple-teamed in nearly every game where she was in the pool this year. That just opened things up for her teammates and by the end of the season Crescenta Valley had nine players with at least 20 goals.
The Falcons made it to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs for the first time since 2002. They captured their second straight Pacific League title along the way, finishing the season with a 27-4 overall record. CV also went undefeated (8-0) in league.
Five Falcons were named All-CIF Southern Section Division V players at the end of the year: Fraisse, Adrienne Ingalla, Christine Cho, Sabrina Hatzer and Breeana Lawton.
5 Flintridge Prep boys’ basketball: There’s little doubt the Rebels would have struggled to make it to the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA championship without their dominant center, Kenyatta Smith, the 2011 All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year and CIF Division V-AA Player of the Year.
Smith’s averages of 19.6 points, 14.8 rebounds and 4.8 blocks a game led Prep to success, but when the team’s dominant force in the middle was contained in the first half of the Division V-AA championship by Muir the rest of the squad helped pick up the slack.
All the Rebels had a hand in the 47-44 victory over Muir — from Smith’s 15 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks to Jared Norsworthy’s 14 points and nine rebounds to Robert Cartwright scoring the final bucket of the game for a big three-point lead. Prep’s 2011 boys’ basketball squad goes down as the best in program history, since they’re the group that’s delivered the program’s first CIF championship.
“We just made history,” said Smith after the win over Muir. “I’m so happy right now, I’m so proud of every one of those guys. We worked so hard to be here and we finally made it. This is it.”
The first three rounds of the playoffs went down pretty easy for Flintridge Prep with wins over Whitney (75-46), Blair (79-57) and Mission Prep (86-72) in the first three rounds of the Division V-AA playoffs. Prep’s most dominating performance of the year came in the first round of the CIF Division V State Championships with a 98-32 win over Tranquillity. The Rebels’ season came to an end at the hands of St. Bernard, with a 68-54 loss, in the second round of the State Championships.
6 St. Francis soccer: Talent doesn’t always translate to success, but it did this year for the Golden Knights. Seven St. Francis players hauled in All-Mission League honors after the team took second in the ultra-competitive league with a 9-3 league record.
St. Francis finished the season with a 15-10 record and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinals. The Golden Knights had a flair for the dramatic with two last-minute goals in wins over Santa Barbara (3-2), the top-seeded team in the CIF Southern Section Division I poll, and Thousand Oaks (2-1), in the first round of the playoffs. St. Francis also defeated Ventura, 2-0, in the second round of the playoffs before losing to San Clemente, 3-2, in the quarterfinals.
There seemed to be a different hero each time as Mark Verso notched a hat trick, including the game winner, against Santa Barbara and his brother Eric Verso scored two goals and the late winner against Thousand Oaks. The Verso brothers went on to be named to the ESPN Rise All-State list.
7 Crescenta Valley boys’ soccer: For the first time in the history of the Crescenta Valley boys’ soccer program, a member of the team was named to an All-CIF team. The first-time feat was accomplished by three different players — Pavle Atanackovic, Alex Berger and Salar Hajimirsadeghi.
“It's great to get three,” CV Coach Kiel McClung said. “In the school's weight room, there's a list of former players who have made All-CIF in each sport. There were no boys' soccer players there and I gave them a hard time. I asked the players who will be the first players from our team to get All-CIF?”
Atanackovic, the 2011 All-Area Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year, was the team’s most dangerous offensive weapon, scoring 33 goals. His goal numbers skyrocketed because he benefited from pin-point passes from midfielders like Berger and Hajimirsadeghi. The trio led the Falcons to an undefeated, 11-0-3, Pacific League record and league crown. Crescenta Valley (15-3-5 overall) worked its way to the quarterfinals of the Division IV tournament, the deepest the Falcons had ever gone in the playoffs, before falling to El Rancho, 3-1.
8 Flintridge Prep girls’ soccer: An explosive offense and dominant defense led the Rebels to plenty of success in 2011, including the CIF Southern Section Division III quarterfinals.
“I don't want to say we have the best offense by far, but, defensively, I do think we were the strongest team in league throughout the season,” said Prep Coach Esteban Chavez, whose team went 17-4-3 and 8-1-1 in league for an outright championship.
The Rebels pulled out wins over Diamond Bar, 3-1, and Cypress, 2-1, in the first two rounds of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs. Prep lost to Ayala, 3-1, in the quarterfinals to end its season.
Prep's Brooke Elby and Connell Studenmund anchored the team’s offense and defense, respectively, as both were All-CIF Southern Section Division III first-team selections. As a defensive unit, the Rebels had five shutouts and allowed 17 goals on the year. Casey Cousineau, Flintridge Prep’s goalkeeper, had 128 saves on the year and received All-CIF honors with Elby and Studenmund.
A total of seven Rebels reached All-Prep League status this year.
9 Crescenta Valley softball: Erin Ashby’s presence at the plate and in the circle led the Falcons to a share of the Pacific League crown and to a playoff berth in the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs. Crescenta Valley lost to Oak Park, 6-5, in the first round.
The Falcons were nearly impossible to beat in Pacific League play, as they went 13-1 in league. Crescenta Valley finished the season 21-4 overall for a share of the league title with Burroughs. CV won its last 12 games of the regular season and Ashby went on to be named the 2011 All-Area Softball Player of the Year.
10 Flintridge Prep boys’ volleyball: Kenyatta Smith and Jared Norsworthy led the Rebels boys’ volleyball team to success, as well.
The Rebels (11-14) went 4-4 in league play but put together a playoff run that reached the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs. Prep defeated Laguna Blanca and West Valley Christian in the first two rounds of the postseason. Flintridge Prep lost to Firebaugh, the tournament’s top seed, in the quarterfinals. Smith, who was an All-CIF first-teamer, missed the quarterfinal match after suffering an off-the-court injury.