GLENDALE — Seconds away from a berth into the Los Tacos Holiday Festival championship match and minutes from a scoreless tie in the tournament’s third-place game, timing proved everything for the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team.
The Tologs, who were nipped in penalty kicks of the tournament semifinal contest Saturday morning, were unable to find solace in the festival’s third-place match later that afternoon, surrendering a late goal and falling to Royal High, 1-0, at the Glendale Sports Complex.
“I think it was a good game and it could have gone either way. We learned a lot from this tournament even though we didn’t do as well as we thought we could,” Tologs Coach Cesar Hidalgo said. “Overall, we played very well in the back and we lost on a bad call. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Hidalgo was referring to a penalty called against Tologs sophomore defender Lauren Savo in the 56th minute of a 60-minute contest when the fullback appeared to cleanly slide-tackle possession away from Royal sophomore halfback Jamie Viquelia about 10 yards for goal.
Much to chagrin of both Savo and Hidalgo, a foul was called and a penalty shot was awarded to Royal (5-3-3), which was taken by senior defender Jackie Albers.
“It was a fair tackle I think, but [the official] called it, so whatever,” Savo said. “It was so late in the game that you can’t fight that. I did what I had to do and it ended like that, which is unfortunate. You just have to roll with the punches.”
Albers fired a shot to the right of Tologs goalie Dani Garcia, who guessed correctly on her dive attempt but was a split second and a foot too short on her stop attempt, which rattled in for the match’s lone goal.
“I just had to push a little farther and a little harder to the right side. I’ve been taught to watch the ball, see where it goes and then react and not guess,” said Garcia, who finished with six saves. “PK’s are 50-50, you never know.”
The goal was both a match-winner and debilitated the Tologs, who didn’t fire another shot in the final few minutes of the contest after coming close to breaking the stalemate only minutes earlier.
Perhaps the Tologs’ best three opportunities to score came within a three-minute flurry, first in the 51st minute on a three-player combination that started with a pass from senior forward Micaela Snashall from center field to the right wing to streaking sophomore Nicole Linden.
The Tologs’ forward then threaded a cross to sophomore defender Cristina Venneri, who flicked a seven-yard shot off her back heel that landed right into the grasp of Highlanders goalie Mikale Hoosley.
Despite the miss, Venneri had another solid look 30 seconds later, when she was just wide left on a 20-yard rocket created off a defensive miscue.
The shot was the final for Flintridge Sacred Heart (6-2-1), although the Tologs just missed on a wide-open look when sophomore Lindsey Pierson connected on a long ball to Snashall, who attempted to forward a through ball to Venneri.
Unfortunately for Flintridge Sacred Heart, Royal defender Emily Schmitt converted on a sliding clearout attempt, which prevented a point-blank shot from Venneri.
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s last-minute defeat came shortly after the team fell to West Ranch, 5-3 in penalty kicks, in a match that ended in a 1-1 tie.
The Tologs’ scored a goal from Sophia Saldivar, but allowed the equalizer with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.
“We’re a very young team and while no one wants to lose, this is good experience for us,” said Hidalgo, who started four junior-varsity call-ups versus Royal. “We’ll take the loss and grow and get ready for league.”