Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team's tourney hopes dashed by PKs

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — There's been a respected and healthy rivalry that's developed the past several seasons between the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and Saugus High girls' soccer teams.

The Tologs and Centurions have crossed paths in the playoffs en route to winning CIF Southern Section championships. They’ve also proven adept at playing against each other at a high caliber in the regular season.

That proved to be the case Friday, when Saugus and Flintridge Sacred Heart met in the championship match of the Los Tacos Holiday Festival.

Saugus and Flintridge Sacred Heart swapped second-half goals before the Centurions bested the Tologs, 5-4, in an eight-round penalty-kick session at the Glendale Sports Complex.

“Saugus is a good team,” said Flintridge Sacred Heart first-year Coach Cesar Hidalgo, whose team reached the championship match earlier with a 1-0 victory against West Ranch in a Red Bracket contest. “It’s one of the best games that we’ve played, and it’s good motivation to move on.

“I think we are where we want to be after 10 games.”

Saugus, which reached the title match with a 3-1 Green Bracket win against Pasadena earlier Friday, improved to 13-0. The Tologs are 8-0-2.

The Tologs, who have won the tournament three times and shared it once since the event’s inception in 2005, opened the scoring in the 58th minute. Krista Meaglia found Hanna Armendariz with a short pass before Armendariz beat Saugus goalkeeper Maddie Hebert.

Saugus, which won the Foothill League title last season, tested the Tologs a couple of times immediately after the goal. Saugus’ persistence paid dividends in the 63rd minute.

The Centurions tied it when Leah Eldridge followed up on a rebound after Flintridge Sacred Heart goalkeeper Dani Garcia made a diving save. The ball popped loose in front of several players before Eldridge found the loose ball on a slide tackle to knot it at 1.

“I got my foot on the first shot, and I had my hand on top of the ball on the rebound,” said Garcia, who finished with three saves and yielded one goal in four tournament matches. “She just came in and scored.”

In penalty kicks, Saugus shot first and converted on a goal by Alana Shaw before Kayla Mills tied it at 1.

Garcia stopped Angie Weiner in the second round before the Tologs took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Kendall Sandoval.

Alexandria Pico tied it at 2 on Saugus’ third attempt before Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Sarah Teegarden missed wide of the left post.

Saugus’ Avery Schulhofer made it 3-2 in the fourth round and Hebert stopped Hailey James. The Centurions had a chance to clinch the championship in the fifth round, but Katelyn Benavidez’ shot went wide of the left post. Armendariz then tied it at 3.

Saugus’ Yulissa Gonzalez and Lauren Savo of Flintridge Sacred Heart couldn’t convert on their opportunities in the sixth round.

Saugus’ Ashley Caron and Meaglia each scored in the seventh round to make it 4-4.

In the eighth round, Amber Phipps gave Saugus a 5-4 lead. Needing a goal to extend the match, Hebert stopped Claire Kostelnik.

“You try to stay relaxed and calm [during penalty kicks],” Garcia said. “In penalty kicks, there’s nothing you can do.

“I like them and I hate them.”

Saugus Coach Natalie Helgeson said she expected a stern test from the Tologs.

“[Flintridge Sacred Heart associate Coach Frank Pace] talked about the rivalry and every time we play it’s a good game and there’s that exciting history,” said Helgeson, who got nine saves in regulation from Hebert. “It’s always back and forth.

“Nobody likes playing them because they are so good and they are oozing with talent. On the penalty kicks, we talked about what we needed to do because we had been practicing them lately.”

Mills and Hebert were named the tournament’s co-most valuable players.

In the West Ranch match, Mills scored in the 55th minute and Garcia made four saves.

Flintridge Sacred Heart will next compete at 5 p.m. Friday against visiting Alemany in a Mission League opener for both teams at Occidental College.

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