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Top teams made titanic imprints

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer's stellar championship campaign secured top honors among year's best.

August 16, 2010|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • The Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team is the No. 1 team for the 2009-10 high school year.
The Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team is the… (Raul Roa, Glendale…)

GLENDALE — The area's top-10 high school teams from the 2009-10 season were selected by the Glendale News-Press sports department.

1 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer — If the Tologs hadn't advanced to the 2010 CIF Southern California Division III Regional Championships and won the whole thing, it's quite possible that they would still top this list.

Their Mission League title defense — which resulted in a second-place finish, despite the fact they never lost a match — and the ensuing thrill ride to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs provided a standard of excitement and excellence that few teams could match.

But, of course, Sacred Heart (22-1-4) did cap off the year with its first-ever Regionals crown, making the youthful squad's selection for team-of-the-year honors practically a slam dunk.

"It was terrific," Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace said of the winning the championship, 2-1, over Francis Parker at Warren High on March 12. "I think we might have felt we had underachieved if we hadn't won that state championship. Imagine saying that our fear would be underachieving, but we were undefeated in league and came in second, so there was that feeling of unfinished business.

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"To be able to finish the year with a win and have that win mean a state championship, how do you get any better than that?"

With a plethora of raw talent, Sacred Heart didn't seem to suffer from the loss of several top seniors from last year. Aside from losing the league title, they achieved even more than that celebrated squad did, setting school records in wins, goals scored (72) and assists (70), while also posting a school-record 15 shutouts.

Featuring the dynamic offensive tandem of forwards Katie Johnson (23 goals) and Breeana Koemans (19 goals, 16 assists), balanced with a rock-solid defense led by All-Area Girls' Soccer Player of the Year Natalie Zeenni, Sacred Heart was consistently perched at the top of the Division II rankings and finished the season ranked ninth in the nation and third in the state by ESPN Rise.

But it was the team's thrilling playoff exploits, defined by clutch play and a never-say-die resiliency, that solidified its legacy.

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