LOS ANGELES — Both Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and Glendale High had started the new girls’ soccer season on the right foot, with wins in the opener for both schools. Now, as the Nitros faced off against the host Tologs at Occidental College, it was time to see what the next step would bring.
In the end, it was Flintridge Sacred Heart that took the bigger step forward, turning two late first-half goals into a 3-0 victory Friday evening on Patterson Field over a Nitros squad that stuck around but could not match the Tologs’ superior skill, pedigree and physical play.
“We started a little slow,” Tologs Coach Cesar Hidalgo said. “Since this is a new team we have to start putting all the pieces together. Once we find out who is playing where, I think we’re going to be picking up the pace a little bit.”
Coming out with a defensive mindset from the opening whistle, the Nitros kept the game scoreless until the 34th minute.
That’s when Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy (2-0), which kept the majority of the action compressed into Glendale’s defensive third of the field throughout, saw its pressure pay off.
Senior Casey Basso collected the ball in space some 30 yards out from goal and blasted a shot that found the back of the net, sailing in just beneath the center of the crossbar.
“I didn’t even think it was going to go in,” Basso said. “You always shoot far post and when it didn’t completely go far post I thought it wasn’t going to go in, but it was a great goal.”
Just three minutes, later Basso followed her goal with an assist to Heather Turcios, one of the 13 underclass players on the varsity roster.
On a set play, Basso kicked a corner kick short to the sophomore at the top corner of the box. Turcios then uncorked a high, bending kick that dropped into the net at a sharp angle just out of reach of Nitros goalkeeper Crystal Rivera.
“Coming into this game knowing who we were playing, I know they are a young team, but it’s Scared Heart,” Glendale coach Victor Aquino said. “I know they have club players. I know they are all top players. So coming into this game we came in more defensive-minded. Our goal today was to defensively work our shape and cover spaces.It was more of a game where we wanted to work our defense. There will be other games when we push up more, but knowing we did such a good job against this team raises our expectations.”
Glendale (1-1) did not get off a shot in the first half and in total the Tologs outshot the Nitros, 17-1.
Flintridge Sacred Heart is still yet to give up a goal this young season, which saw Vanessa Ocon and Dani Garcia split the credit for the shutout. Ocon — who is regularly the junior varsity keeper, but played the entirety of the opener as Garcia recovers from offseason knee surgery — played the first half against the Nitros and never had to touch the ball.
In the second half, Ocon gave way to Garcia as the senior saw her first action of the year, including a save on the lone shot Glendale sent her way.
The second half was equally tilted in Flintridge Sacred Heart’s direction, as the Tologs dominated play with possession-oriented passing and hard physical play.
The only goal of the second 40 minutes came with 26:52 to go when senior Micaela Snashall saw her first shot from the top of the box blocked by a Nitros defender, only to get the rebound and drive her second shot into the back of the net to make the final 3-0 margin.
“The idea is to win the ball as quickly as we can,” Hidalgo said. “If we can do that and control the pace of the game we’re going to be OK. The girls are learning to do that.”
Although the Tologs were quicker and stronger to the ball, Glendale kept pressing throughout. Nitro Ashley Hermosillo, who now is playing in the field after being the starting goalie in the three previous seasons, even dished out some of the physical punishment she and her team had absorbed, earning a yellow card for a hard tackle of Basso in the second half.
“It was a team effort and we played like a team,” Basso said. “I mean, it’s our second game of the season and it was nice to work out some of the kinks we had last game and build off what we did in practice.”