League champs march into CIF

Having already established themselves as Prep League and Mission League champions, respectively, Flintridge Prep and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy found out Monday afternoon how they will begin their paths toward claiming the greater goal of CIF Southern Section championships.

The Tologs earned the No. 3 seed in the Division I playoffs and will host Foothill, while Flintridge Prep welcomes Diamond Bar in the Division III tournament. All matches are scheduled for 3 p.m. today.

"Obviously, there are no easy games in Division I," said Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace, whose team won the CIF Southern California Division III Regionals Championships last season after advancing to the semifinals of the Southern Section Division II tournament. "The Century League is a very well-respected league. They're in with Esperanza, who's the No. 2 seed. They're certainly not gonna be intimidated by us."

Sacred Heart (16-1-1), should it get past Foothill (10-10-2), the Century League's No. 4 squad, would face either Northwood or Aliso Niguel.

Pace is confident that his team, which boasts the likes of reigning All-Area Player of the Year Natalie Zeenni and the scoring tandem of Breeana Koemans and Katie Johnson, is experienced enough not to look past anyone.

"[Foothill is] gonna be a good first-round test for us, certainly one we can't take lightly," said Pace, who added his game is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Occidental College. "Since we are tournament-tested, we have what it takes to play in a one-and-done situation.

"Success in the tournament doesn't come quickly, it's five grueling, hard-fought matches. But it can go away in 80 minutes and our kids know that."

Flintridge Prep, after having won its second straight league title and first outright in program history, plays host to a Diamond Bar team that took third in the Hacienda League.

Led all season offensively by Brooke Elby and boasting an underrated Connell Studenmund-led defense, the Rebels are looking to get to the second round after falling in penalty kicks in the first round last year.

While Rebels Coach Esteban Chavez doesn't know too much about Diamond Bar, he's seen its counterparts in the Hacienda League and was impressed.

"I would consider that probably the toughest league in our division in my opinion," he said. "One through four, [the league] is super tough. They're a super-strong third-place team."

Diamond Bar is 14-7-1, while Prep owns a 15-3-2 mark and has won five straight games. The winner will face either Cypress or Cerritos.

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