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Tologs a win away from D1 finals

Soccer: Sacred Heart returns to semifinals for second straight season

takes on host Esperanza at 3 p.m.

March 01, 2011|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com

GLENDALE — Once more into the semifinals, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's soccer team finds itself setting out for a destination that is similar and an outcome that is every bit the opposite.

A season ago, the Tologs found their CIF Southern Section Division II playoff journey conclude in the semifinals on the road in Orange County against Beckman.

This time around, the Tologs will venture once again to an Orange County that is becoming quite familiar upon their path to winning a first-ever CIF championship.

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But if anything about last season's penalty kick loss to Beckman is on the minds of the Tologs, it is simply that nobody wants a repeat performance.

"Our attitude toward last year is we don't want that to happen again," junior forward Breeana Koemans said. "I think we're stronger mentally."

Added senior defender Natalie Zeenni: "This year, I look at it like we're not going home with anything but a win."

Obviously that's easier said than done, as the Tologs (18-1-2), the No. 3 seed in the CIF Division I playoffs, face host and second-seeded Esperanza (22-2-5) at 3 p.m. today.

"They're obviously an excellent team," said Tologs co-Coach Frank Pace of the Aztecs, who won the Sunset League and are the reigning Southern Section Division I and Southern California Division I Regional Championships titlists. "They have players that are obviously skilled and have done well in situations like this before."

Ranked third in the state by ESPN Rise, just a notch below the Tologs, the Aztecs earned their way into the semifinals after a 1-0 quarterfinal victory against Mission Viejo on Thursday. That followed a pair of wins over Mater Dei and University by identical 1-0 scores, as well.

Pace, for one, doesn't look at the opposition's slim wins as a weakness, however.

"I've always told our kids, great teams win the 1-0 games," Pace said.

In fact, Pace isn't putting a whole lot of stock in past contests, including common opponents.

Both teams have faced Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, Foothill, Brea Olinda and Aliso Niguel. Esperanza went 5-2 against the quartet, with its only two losses of the season coming to Notre Dame and Aliso Niguel. Against that same quartet, the Tologs have gone 5-0. But, as aforementioned, Pace believes all that means little in a game such as today's.

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