Surprise send off for Koemans

After a storied, four-season tenure that included a pair of Mission League titles, a first-ever CIF Southern California Division III Regional Championship and an unprecedented CIF Southern Section Division I crown, Breeana Koemans concluded her days as a Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer player with a fitting individual accolade.

Despite the Tologs finishing second behind Harvard-Westlake in league, Koemans was voted a share of the league's top honor, as she was named the Mission League co-Most Valuable Player.

It was an accomplishment announced to Koemans on Monday at the team's banquet and one that came as a surprise.

"It was a huge surprise, I was completely shocked," said Koemans, adding that after her team's second-place finish she believed she wouldn't figure into the discussion for MVP, which she ended up sharing with Harvard-Westlake's Danielle Duhl. "It never crossed my mind."

But after leading the Tologs (13-5-3, 6-2-2 in league) with 15 goals and adding 12 assists, one would be hard-pressed to argue that the senior forward/midfielder didn't merit the selection. On top of it, Koemans was able to accomplish what she did with a new and ever changing cast of players around her, as starting forward Katie Johnson, who Koemans had played all three previous seasons with, was lost to a knee injury all season, as were midfielders Tera Trujillo and Krista Meaglia. Add to that subsequent injuries to forward Jillian Jacobs and midfielder Savannah Viola and continuity was hard, if not impossible, to gain and yet Koemans was a constant.

"This year, not having Katie and Krista, her task was that much more difficult," Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace said of Koemans, who played a role in 27 of her team's 55 goals. "She had 50% of our points. That's pretty amazing when you're being keyed on. It's not like Harvard-Westlake or Chaminade or Notre Dame didn't know who she was, they knew exactly who she was and she still scored against them."

Koemans, who was also an All-CIF Division I first-team selection, had six goals and four assists in league play, including four goals against the aforementioned trio of teams which, along with Sacred Heart comprised the hierarchy of the league.

She was just the fourth Tolog to be voted the league's player of the year, following Johnson last year, Lauren Bustos (2005) and Kelly Sinner (1997).

"I think it's a great way to end my career at school," said Koemans, who will play soccer at Northeastern University. "It's a big honor. I'm ecstatic."

In addition to Koemans, All-Mission League mainstays Katelyn Almeida and Alexa Montgomery concluded their Tologs careers with first-team selections, joined by junior midfielder/defender Sarah Teegarden.

Almeida, a co-captain along with Koemans, and Montgomery truly were the glue of a defense that allowed only 19 goals in 21 matches.

"They knew they had a really big role," Koemans said. "They really stepped up."

Almeida, who will play in the fall at New Mexico, was also an All-CIF third-team selection and tallied a goal and three assists.

"She stepped up and she led us [on defense]," Pace said.

Montgomery, who will play for Arizona, also had a goal and three assists and proved to be one of the best defenders in the league once again.

"There's no question about Alexa when she's at her best," Pace said. "When she's at her best, she's as good as anyone."

Teegarden, who bounced back and forth between defense and midfielder, had a goal and two assists and rounded out the first-team Tologs.

Junior playmaker Kayla Mills, surprising sophomore Laura Thompson and freshman standout Hanna Armendariz garnered second-team honors.

Mills and Armendariz each missed a share of games with club commitments, but still put up lofty numbers.

The USC-bound Mills, who was an All-Area, All-CIF and first-team All-Mission League defender as a sophomore, moved up to forward for much of this season and paid dividends to the tune of a team-high 13 assists and eight goals. She had three goals and three assists in league play, though she missed nearly half the league campaign.

"The only thing that separated her from first team and second team was the number of games she played," Pace said.

Armendariz, the area's most dynamic freshman, tallied 11 goals and five assists with four goals and three assists coming during league play.

"Hanna had a remarkable freshman year for us," Pace said. "Those are some pretty good numbers. She's gonna get better and better."

Thompson was a midseason call-up from junior varsity and finished with four goals and an assist. She scored three goals in league play, including game-winners against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Chaminade. She also had a goal and an assist in the Tologs' first-round playoff overtime loss to Capistrano Valley.

"There's players that have a knack for scoring goals," Pace said. "She's one of those players."

What Pace was happiest with, however, was that the trio of seniors honored, led by Koemans, helped to build up a team of fresh faces through some devastating injuries that's quite likely to be led by the returning all-league quartet.

"They built a new ... team," Pace said. "I'm excited about what these new kids accomplished. And they did that because of the [senior] leaders."

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