Working out the nerves

Now that the dust has settled and everyone can look back at the 2010-11 sports year, there's no doubt the campaign goes down as one of the best for La Cañada Flintridge athletes and their respective teams.

Flintridge Prep, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and La Cañada High athletes garnered a wide range of individual accolades and succeeded at a number of different levels. Outstanding individual performances led to playoff appearances and two CIF Southern Section girls' championships — a Division I title for Sacred Heart's soccer team and a Division V crown for La Cañada's softball team.

Both squads boasted rosters stacked with talented athletes who ensured their teams wouldn't be stopped. There were plenty of other squads and individuals that embarked on deep playoff runs. La Cañada's finest players hauled in all-state, All-Area and all-league honors along the way, establishing themselves as some of the best athletes to ever come through their respective schools.

Here is the list of La Cañada's top-10 female athletes in 2010-11:

1 — Katy Campbell, La Cañada swimming, junior

Campbell was nervous coming into this season. Both of La Cañada's boys' and girls' swimming teams had been bumped up from CIF Southern Section Division II to Division I and she didn't quite know what to expect from the Division I finals.

"Division I is definitely going to be challenge," Campbell said a week before the Division I finals at the Rio Hondo League finals, where she set three new league records. "I do have some confidence [after today], but I am going in a little uneasy."

Campbell broke two individual records, one in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute 50.99 seconds) and another in the 500 freestyle (4:53.10) and also was a part of the 200-freestyle relay team with Mackenzie Heaton, Sarah Olson and Samantha Campbell that set a new record with a time of 1:42.50 at league finals.

"She's got power in her kick and that upper body strength," said La Cañada Coach Tiffany Quash, explaining Campbell's dominance. "She's built like a swimmer. Katy is muscle."

There was no slowing down for Campbell when CIF rolled around.

The junior took first in the 500 freestyle at CIF Southern Section Division I finals at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach in 4:43.04, which was more than two seconds faster than the second-place finisher. She also took third in the 200 freestyle in 1:49.07. Whatever nerves Campbell had seemed to be gone, as she dominated even more so at the CIF Masters Meet, where she won the 200- (1:48.66) and 500 freestyle (4:46.05).

Quash was floored by Campbell's ability to excel in two markedly different events.

"For someone to go out and sprint the 200 and come back and win the 500, an endurance event, is not common," Quash said. "The only thing they have in common is they're both freestyles."

2 — Natalie Zeenni, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer, senior

Zeenni, the 2010 and 2011 All-Area Girls' Soccer Player of the Year, helped anchor a Sacred Heart squad, specifically its defense, that was already filled with plenty of talent. The Tologs put their skill to work and won the CIF Southern Section Division I championship.

With Zeenni on the backline, Sacred Heart allowed 18 goals in 26 matches and posted 14 shutouts. As a result, the Tologs went 23-2-1 and won the Mission League title and their first-ever Division I title.

"For the most part, you know what you're gonna get with Natalie," Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace said. "The knowledge that Natalie has on the field always gave us a leg up on the competition."

It seemed like Zeenni received nearly every award she was eligible for. She was named Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's Jessica Hanson Most Valuable Player, to ESPN Rise's All-State second team, the Mission League's co-Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All-CIF Southern Section Division I pick.

Zeenni is going on to play for the University of New Mexico in 2012. The Lobos hope the former Tolog will flash her knack for keeping balls from crossing the goal line, like she did three times this postseason — once in the semifinal and twice in the championship game.

"I would call it instincts," Pace said. "She combines great skill with a very good knowledge of the game and extraordinary instincts. Sometimes you just know where the ball's going. That's what she has the ability to do."

3 — Katie Johnson, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer, junior

Plenty of players assembled impressive seasons to make the 2011 Sacred Heart soccer season the best in school history. Johnson had a hand — or foot — in the Tologs' dominant run to the CIF Southern Section Division I championship, establishing herself as the team's most dangerous and reliable offensive threat.

The Mission League MVP scored 23 goals and notched 12 assists (a career high) for a total of 58 points, which were all team bests for Sacred Heart. She also set league highs in goals (10), assists (four) and points (24), while leading the Tologs' offense in the postseason with four goals and four assists.

Johnson's impressive junior campaign led to her being selected to the All-CIF first team for the second straight year, the ESPN Rise All-State list and drew interest from USC, which is where she's committed to after she graduates.

"The impact that Katie had for us is immeasurable on offense," said Sacred Heart Coach Frank Pace. "One tribute to Katie is the big jump in her assists. ...[She had] assists in some huge games.

"She really filled out her offensive game from just a pure scorer to someone who also created opportunities for her teammates."

4 — Lauren O'Leary, La Cañada softball, senior

It seemed like the Spartans only needed to score one run to win a game this year. That's all thanks to O'Leary's work in the circle.

The CIF Southern Section Division V Player of the Year gave up an average of just 2.6 hits and less than a run in playoff games this year. She maintained a 0.39 earned-run average the entire season, finishing her senior campaign with a 25-2 record, as the Spartans went 26-3 (12-0 in Rio Hondo League) and won the program's first CIF Southern Section championship since 1995.

O'Leary, who will play for Georgetown University next year, started all but two games for La Cañada and ended the year with 23 complete games, 16 shutouts and 237 strikeouts, surrendering just 27 walks.

Her strongest work came in the postseason. She pitched a no-hitter against South Pasadena in the final game of the regular season and then tossed a perfect game against Ramona Convent in La Cañada's first-round playoff game.

The senior, who was also named the Rio Hondo League Pitcher of the Year, had a head of steam going into the Spartans' Division V championship game against Beaumont. O'Leary pitched a three-hit shutout with eight strikeouts against the Cougars in a 1-0 Spartans win.

"All you need is one run with Lauren, she's amazing out there," said Anna Edwards, O'Leary's teammate, after the win against Beaumont. "She's so tough to hit against, has so much control and I feel great standing behind her."

5 — Anna Edwards, La Cañada softball, senior

When La Cañada needed a run, it always seemed like Edwards was there answering the call. When the Spartans needed it most, in their CIF Southern Section Division V championship game against Beaumont, Edwards belted a solo home run in the third inning, which stood up for the 1-0 victory.

"I don't think there's a coach around that would mind having Anna come up in a clutch situation," La Cañada Coach KC Mathews said. "I don't care what level you're at."

The senior was an All-CIF first-team selection after she collected team highs in batting average (.471, 41 for 87), on-base percentage (.569), slugging percentage (1.011), home runs (12), runs batted in (31) and stolen bases (10) this year. She also had two three-homer games this season, including one against Hemet in the second round of the playoffs.

Edwards' prowess on the softball field extended outside of the batter's box. She was a vacuum at the shortstop position, attacking any ball that came her way on defense. Another thing Mathews loved about Edwards, who is headed to play for Northwestern University, was her mindset on the field.

"She's a fierce competitor," Mathews said. "One of the things that makes Anna as good as she is, on top of her athletic ability, is she's very driven."

6 — Megan Siepler, La Cañada soccer and softball, senior

The speedy Siepler was a threat for the Spartans in both softball and soccer, but did most of her damage as a forward on the soccer field. She brought in All-Rio Hondo League honors in both sports, though, as the league's Most Valuable Player in soccer and a second-team selection in softball.

The senior had 28 goals and 21 assists for La Cañada's Rio Hondo League champion soccer team. She was named to the CIF Southern Section Division VI first team after helping the Spartans reach the second round of the playoffs and amass a 13-6-1 record, 8-1-1 in league.

Siepler did her share of damage for La Cañada's softball team, as well. She hit .286 (24 for 84), slugged .476, scored 15 runs, posted 12 RBI and stole six bases on seven attempts. Her biggest game of the season came in the quarterfinals against Katella. She went three for four with two doubles and four RBI in an 8-1 win.

7 — Brooke Elby, Flintridge Prep soccer, senior

For the first time ever, Flintridge Prep captured an outright Prep League title. The Rebels also worked their way to the CIF Southern Section Division III quarterfinals with Elby leading the way.

The Rebels forward is headed to the University of North Carolina after producing 28 goals and nine assists for Flintridge Prep this season. Elby's performance in her final high school season earned her Prep League Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-CIF and All-Area honors.

"I just think she's matured on the field," Rebels Coach Esteban Chavez said. "Even when they man-mark her, she's learned to not get frustrated and to understand that in 80 minutes nobody's good enough to man-mark her for 80 minutes."

8 — Camille Coffey, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy volleyball, senior

After being a first-team All-Area selection the past two seasons, Coffey finished off her senior campaign as the 2010 All-Area Girls' Volleyball Player of the Year.

Coffey, a co-MVP in the Mission League, led the Tologs in nearly every stat — kills (241), digs (162), blocks (19) and aces (eight). Sacred Heart compiled a 6-3 Mission League record for a second-place league finish in the elite league and made it to the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA playoffs.

"She really is too well-rounded," Sacred Heart Coach Anne Arlie said of Coffey, her captain and outside hitter. "She plays aggressively on both offense and defense. Her mentality is to always put the ball away — never let it drop."

9 — Kira Lee, Flintridge Prep tennis, junior

The Rebels' ace improved on her sophomore campaign by advancing to the third round of the CIF Individual tournament, before being defeated by San Marino's Sarah Gaeler, 6-0, 6-1.

"[Lee] was happy about [making the] third round and happy about how she did," said Flintridge Prep Coach Ron Catano of the All-Area Player of the Year. "She's looking forward to her senior year making it to the fourth round."

10 — Eirene Kim, La Cañada volleyball, senior

The Rio Hondo League co-MVP was a steady force for the Spartans and a statistical and emotional leader for the team. Her 435 digs and 49 aces were team highs for La Cañada. The first-team All-CIF Southern Section Division II-AA pick helped La Cañada (30-4, 10-0 in Rio Hondo League) reach the Division II-AA quarterfinals.

Honorable mentions: Breeana Koemans, Flintridge Sacred Heart soccer; Catherine Horner, La Cañada softball and volleyball; Tera Trujillo, Flintridge Sacred Heart soccer; Denise van der Goot, Flintridge Prep softball.

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