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Tologs taking no one lightly in semis

Soccer: Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy cautious about facing CIF-SS Division VI champion St. Margaret's for berth in Southern California Championships final.

March 10, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

GLENDALE — Publicly, at least, St. Margaret's girls' soccer Coach Johnny Marmelstein is all but waving the white flag concerning his team's match with Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy today in the semifinal round of the CIF Southern California Division III Regional Soccer Championships.

"We're the Division VI champs for a reason," said Marmelstein, whose fifth-seeded team beat San Dimas, 2-0, for the CIF Southern Section Division VI title on Friday, the same day the Tologs beat San Clemente, 1-0, for the Division I crown. "We're a small school, we're not a Division I team.

"We have had a great run this season, but we know the carriage is going to turn into a pumpkin real soon."

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Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy co-Coach Frank Pace, however, isn't buying a word of it.

"This is a trap game for us," said Pace, whose Mission League-champion team is the No. 1 seed, as well as the Southern California Division III defending champion, and will host the match at 4 p.m. at Occidental College. "They are a Mission League-caliber team and they know it. Our coaching staff won't be lulled to sleep by this and our goal is to make sure that our kids don't.

"Quite honestly, our kids will know in the first 10 minutes that they're in with a very, very good team. …They're a small school, but so are we and look what we did."

The Tartans' own impressive list of accomplishments lends some credence to Pace's appraisal. St. Margaret's (26-2-1) is the unbeaten champion of the Academy League and hasn't lost a match since Dec. 11. In the postseason, the Tartans have put up 22 goals to just four allowed in six games, including Tuesday's 2-1 defeat of Central Valley Christian in the regional tournament opening round.

But the Tologs (22-1-1) have already cut a path through the toughest division in the Section, a feat which has elevated them to the No. 1 ranking in the nation, according to the latest ESPN Rise poll.

The defense, led by Katelyn Almeida, Natalie Zeenni, Alexa Montgomery, Kayla Mills and Tera Trujillo, was at the forefront of Sacred Heart's biggest playoff wins over Esperanza in the Section semis and San Clemente.

But lest the stellar defense of those two squads cause anyone to forget the Tologs' scoring capabilities, Tuesday's 6-1 first-round win over Horizon Christian could serve as a reminder.

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