When Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame squared off in the championship game of the Los Tacos Holiday Festival Friday night at the Glendale Sports Complex, it was no surprise the game turned out to be a defensive battle.
The two girls’ soccer squads entered the title bout having allowed just one goal between them in the entire tournament.
The surprise came after the Mission League foes battled to a 0-0 tie at the end of regulation when both coaches decided not to have penalty kicks decide the match, but to declare co-champions.
“There was nothing to advance to,” Sacred Heart co-Coach Frank Pace said. “Let everybody feel good about the result. The real bragging rights will come at the end of the Mission League.”
Someone who had plenty to feel good about was Tologs senior forward Carter Vettese.
Vettese was given the Jessica Hanson Award, which is given to the tournament MVP, after finishing the tournament with five goals and three assists.
“It feels awesome,” Vettese said. “I didn’t expect it at all.”
One thing you can expect when two Mission League schools square off is a physical contest, and that was no different Friday. Notre Dame (10-0-3) appeared as if it might break through early in the first half with several close scoring chances. But, a beautiful play by Sacred Heart defender Pip Harragin on a bicycle kick attempt and several big saves from sophomore goalie Dominique Oro kept the Knights at bay.
“It’s definitely something we pride ourselves on,” Vettese said about her team’s defense.
The Tologs (6-4-3) were faced with some adversity early in the second half when senior Heather Riley was assessed a red card for what the referee deemed an aggressive slide tackle.
Playing short handed the final 24 minutes of the game didn’t seem to bother the Tologs though, as they outshot the Knights 8-3 in the second half.
Sacred Heart’s best scoring opportunity came late in the second half when Lisa Shaw broke toward the Knights net. Shaw fired a shot, but was turned away at the last minute by a sliding Knights defender.
“It was an even game. Their kid made a great play on a ball we could have scored on,” Pace said. “We go into the break feeling good about where we are.”
The Tologs, who handed Crescenta Valley its first loss of the season earlier in the day to advance to the championship, didn’t allow a goal and outscored opponents 11-0 in the tournament.