PASADENA — Even with five of its returning starters from last year's CIF Southern Section Division I championship squad on the bench, the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team still had enough firepower on the field to overwhelm host Maranatha Wednesday night.
Breeana Koemans scored two goals to lead a dominant all-around team effort in the Tologs' 5-0 nonleague win to kick off a season that likely won't see the team at full strength soon. Still, Sacred Heart, which entered ranked No. 1 in Division I and the nation by ESPN HS, showed that even at partial strength, it remains a power to be reckoned with.
"Right now, we're going to be 13 or 14 deep this year instead of 17 or 18 deep and that's fine," said Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace, who counts injured standouts Katie Johnson, Tera Trujillo and Krista Meaglia among those currently slated to be out for varying indeterminate lengths of time and was also without Katelyn Almeida and Alexa Montgonery on Wednesday. "We're blessed. We can't think about who we don't have, we're just pleased for who we do have."
Sacred Heart got out to a quick lead with a fourth-minute goal by highly-touted freshman Hanna Armendariz, who nestled one into the lower left corner off an assist from Savannah Viola. Over the next half hour, Sacred Heart fired seven shots and kept up its attacking momentum, but didn't score again until the 33rd minute when Viola assisted on a 20-yard straightaway goal by Koemans for a 2-0 lead.
"We knew we weren't going to have a couple returning players come back, so we practiced extra strong and the players who came in for those non-returners really stepped it up," Koemans said. "Getting five goals is pretty good. We hurt most of our offense so that's where we thought we were going to struggle, but Hanna the freshman came in, she stepped up and she had a goal, so I think we're doing really well."
In the second half, Sacred Heart moved speedy defender Kayla Mills to forward and kicked its offense into a higher gear. As a result of the extra pressure from the Tologs, combined with the sturdy play of Sacred Heart's Sarah Teegarden-led back line, Maranatha (0-2-1) was held without a shot in the second half.
Aside from wreaking general havoc with runs on the wing and along the end line, Mills assisted on the Tologs' third goal in the 52nd minute when she attacked the right side of the goal box and kicked a ball back out to Jill Jacobs for a right-to-left shot that deflected off the Maranatha goalkeeper and in for a score and virtually insurmountable lead.
"Defense played well, Teegarden's very strong in the middle," Pace said. "When we moved Kayla up top, it created a lot more offense for us, so it sort of made it easier to play defense."
The Tologs added two more goals with the first coming on a Koemans shot in the 59th minute where the senior forward took a pass from Armendariz, crossed over her dribble and stopped on a dime before unleashing a shot into the upper left corner. Lauren Torres added a penalty kick inside the final five minutes.