For a Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team setting forth in hopes of defending its CIF Southern Section Division I championship, there is nothing new about traveling south into Orange County.
Only this time around, the Tologs will take to the road from the onset, as they drew an opening-round contest at Capistrano Valley on Friday, upon the release Monday of the CIF playoff soccer brackets.
"It's Mission Viejo on a Friday," said Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace of making the 70-mile trip down to Mission Viejo. "It's a very tough draw, but not any tougher than last year's."
While the Tologs prepare for the road, so too does La Canada, while Flintridge Prep, which won the Prep League crown, will host a first-round game.
The Rebels host Chino Hills in Division III action, while the Spartans travel to face Crean Lutheran in Division VI plays.
Sacred Heart (13-4-3), which is unbeaten over its last five games and coming off a 2-2 come-from-behind result against Mission League champion Harvard-Westlake, took second in its league, but is the only second-place finisher out of eight in the bracket to receive a road game.
Capistrano Valley (11-4-6) took second in the Sea View League behind third-seeded Dana Hills.
As they have been all season, the Tologs will be without injured standouts Tera Trujillo, Katie Johnson and Krista Meaglia. Also injured recently are Jill Jacobs and Savanah Viola, who are not scheduled to play Friday, though the Tologs will get back defensive starter Kendall Sandoval. In addition, though, Sacred Heart will be without freshman standout Hanna Armendariz due to commitments with the national team.
"Health-wise, it is what it is," Pace said. "It is what it has been."
Leading the way offensively is Breeana Koemans, who has 14 goals and 12 assists, while defenders Katelyn Almeida and Alexa Montgomery have also been stellar as of late.
"We like how we're playing right now," said Pace, whose team, should it advance would play Villa Park or Santa Margarita on Feb. 22 in the second round. "We're scoring goals and we're defending well."
Prep (15-2-1) has defended well all season long, recording 12 shutouts with goalie Casey Cousineau and defender Connell Studenmund.
"I really like the mentality they've had this year, I'm really happy with the way we're winning," said Rebels Coach Esteban Chavez, whose team won its third straight Prep League title. "We're coming off a great league season."
The Rebels have recorded two straight shutouts and are riding a seven-match winning streak into their opener against Chino Hills (16-4-5), which finished third in the Sierra League.
"I've seen [Chino Hills] play four times this year," Chavez said. "It's a tough, tough first-round game."
Prep made it to the quarterfinals last season and, with a win, would face La Mirada or Cypress on Feb. 22 in the second round.
La Canada (12-2-4) tied for second in the Rio Hondo League, but lost a tiebreaker to San Marino and enters the playoffs as the league's No. 3 team. The Spartans will face a Crean Lutheran squad that went 13-6-5 and took second in the Academy League. The winner will face Ocean View or Nogales in the second round on Feb. 22.
All games are scheduled for 3 p.m. starts unless both teams agree to change the time.