At the beginning of last week the Flintridge Sacred Heart varsity soccer team was looking at the possibility of a potential fourth place finish in the tough Mission League and then watching the CIF playoffs from the sideline.
However, in the words of co-coach Frank Pace, "Our team found it's personality this week." On Feb. 9, the Tologs traveled to Crespi High to face a physical Louisville team in a must-win game. History had not been kind to the Tologs facing Louisville at home for the past four years, including a 2-3 loss to the Royals last season.
The first half of the match was a battle with both teams showing solid defense. Tologs' goalkeeper Cissy Butler came up big several times in the first half including a goal-saving diving tackle on a short breakaway by Louisville that forced the ball just wide of the net.
Senior Hannah Hand drew attention wherever she moved on the field with Louisville marking her at times with three players.
The second half was played much like the first with tight defense on both sides of the ball. Showing what appeared to be more patience and poise than Louisville, the Tologs started to get scoring opportunities with good runs and passes from the backfield and midfield.
In the 67th minute Hannah Hand was challenged on a ball outside of the penalty area by Louisville goalkeeper Erin Duffy. The resulting collision left Duffy on the ground, causing play to be stopped to check on her injury.
The Tologs were given a free kick near midfield to restart play. Junior sweeper Angie Torres stepped up and placed a perfect ball near the Louisville goal that was headed in by Linzee Luper to put the Tologs up, 1-0.
From that point on, Sacred Heart's defense took over, led by Lauren Bustos, Alexa Ekman, Camille Davis and Torres, shutting down the Royals to take the win.
"This was probably the biggest win in school history. For the past four years it has been us and Louisville battling at the end of the season." co-coach Pace told his players following the game. "There was no unselfish play by anyone this evening. Absolutely everyone played in role in this win."
Needing a second win in two days, the Tologs traveled to Sherman Oaks Notre Dame with a chance at the CIF playoffs in their own hands.
Riding the emotion of the previous night despite the injuries and fatigue of five games in 11 days, the Tologs dominated the Knights from the opening whistle. Sacred Heart opened the scoring when freshman Heather Riley scored on a Torres corner kick. Notre Dame goalkeeper Clare Grimes kept it close in the first half with great saves against junior Giselle Galanto and Hand.
It remained 1-0 at the half. In the second half, Hand took control of the game, scoring two breakaway goals in an eight minute period and then assisting on sophomore Elise Franklin's goal and finally freshman Mimi Roukoz's goal just as time expired to give the Tologs the 5-0 win
and a ticket to the CIF playoffs.
The Tologs finished the regular season with the best varsity soccer record in school history at 16-5-1. Their league mark of 6-4 was good enough for second place.
The Tologs will open the CIF Division I playoffs tomorrow (Friday), at 3 p.m. at Upland.