Loss takes Tologs down a peg

LOS ANGELES — Saturday's match wasn't a Mission League affair that had title implications.

It wasn't a CIF Southern Section Division I playoff contest that could've ended its season.

For the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team, it was another nonleague contest.

But for its opponent, St. Lucy's, it was an opportunity to knock off the top-ranked team in the nation by ESPN HS.

That's exactly what the Regents did, shocking the Tologs with a 1-0 victory at Occidental College's Patterson Field, the team's first home loss since February, 2008.

"We feel taken aback that we lost," Sacred Heart forward Kayla Mills said. "We know we should've won."

Sacred Heart found out Saturday that its coaches stick to their rules, no matter how many honors are bestowed upon the Tologs, who are also the defending Division I champions.

Tolog co-Coaches Frank Pace and Kathy Desmond suspended starting defenders Alexa Montgomery and Katelyn Almeida for the first half of Saturday's match for missing practice, and it was "the difference in the game," according to Pace.

"We have rules and they say, if you don't show up to practice, you sit the next day," Pace said. "We've done it before. Actions have consequences. If it helps you win a game in February, it's worth it."

Despite the starters' absence, the Tologs still controlled the pace of the match and did not allow any scoring chances.

That was the case for the first 30 minutes of the first half.

But with 10 minutes remaining, Regents forward Shannon Hunt took a pass from Victoria Camaj, dribbled past a defender and beat goalkeeper Lindsey Espe to the left corner of the net on her team's only shot on goal of the half.

"The only one that matters is the one that made it on the board," Pace said. "The [defenders] didn't close fast enough. Whether it was communication or lack of urgency, it was probably a combination of all of them that led to the goal."

St. Lucy's had only one shot on goal in the second half, and eight total shots in the match in a contest dominated by the Tolog midfielders and forwards.

"They stayed organized, kept believing in the plan, they worked hard, stayed composed and capitalized on the few chances," St Lucy's Coach Andy Plascencia said. "That's why they play the game."

With Montgomery and Almeida inserted back into the lineup in the second half, the match intensified when Sacred Heart defender Claire Kostelnik was red-carded four minutes into the half when she, according to Plascencia, pulled the hair of Regents forward Sierra Townsend near the St. Lucy's sideline. Kostelnik denied touching Townsend.

The red card had little effect on the Tolog offense, as it continued to attack the Regents, accounting for 23 shots, eight on goal.

But each time the Tologs appeared primed to score, the ball either sailed over the crossbar, missed the net by few feet or was gathered by goalkeeper Heather Seman.

"I know [we] had a lot of opportunities [we] missed out on," Mills said. "My frustration stems from not being satisfied with my play."

The Tologs' frustrations grew as the match wore on, as teammates continually told each other to relax and not lose their poise.

"The frustration part is the lack of discipline leading up to the game and the lack of composure on the field," Pace said. "They were pretty frustrated at their teammates and that frustration played out.

"This was not Camp Happy today. The kids were disappointed in their teammates."

Pace and his players agreed that the Tologs learned valuable lessons from the loss.

"We need to always bring it, from minute one to minute 80," Mills said.

Pace also wasn't too concerned about losing the division's and nation's No. 1 ranking.

"Would we have liked to hold onto it? Of course," he said. "The reality of the situation is the team that wins the CIF Division I championship is going to have the No. 1 ranking.

"We've been a little cocky in practice. Even though we didn't win a game today, hopefully the lessons learned [Saturday] will get us to our ultimate goal."

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