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Courtnall's speed stuns Sacred Heart

Soccer: UCLA-bound forward does what no other could do in playoffs — beat Tologs

March 12, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk,

DOWNEY — Having proven itself time and again against the best athletes in the Mission League and CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs, the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team might have entered Saturday's CIF Southern California Regional Soccer Championships at Warren High feeling like it could stop anybody.

But the Tologs hadn't been on the same field with Ally Courtnall yet and the Oaks Christian senior forward proved to be the difference between a triumphant ending and an anticlimactic stumble to end Sacred Heart's historically successful season.

"She was really, really fast," Sacred Heart junior defender Tera Trujillo said of the UCLA-bound Courtnall, who had a hand in all three goals that constituted the Lions' 3-1 win. "She whooped our butts."


Certainly there were other factors in the defending-champion Tologs' upset loss — their first since a 4-3 regular-season defeat by league rival Harvard-Westlake on Jan. 24 — including the absence or unavailability of three prominent players from the very start and the loss of their own leading scorer, Katie Johnson, less than 10 minutes into the first half. There was also a telling post-game admission by some Sacred Heart players that the team simply underestimated the Division IV section champs.

But the Tologs apparently made the mistake of underestimating Courtnall, as well, and she made them pay right away with a goal in the third minute that seemed to stun the previously unflappable Tologs.

"We knew that if we didn't come out hard in the beginning, we would get punished in the end," said Courtnall, who finished the season with 30 goals and 17 assists. "We knew that we had to come out and capitalize on all the opportunities we were given. We knew that they were a really good team, so we just had to come out and just give it our all and that's exactly what we did."

On the Lions' first scoring play, midfielder Mandi Duncan made a pass from the right wing to Courtnall making a diagonal run into the box. Courtnall was able to swiftly get a step inside on the Tologs' defense and bent a shot past Sacred Heart junior goalkeeper Lindsey Espe from 10 yards out.

"We knew she was good, but we didn't know she was going to be that good," Tologs senior defender Natalie Zeenni said. "They definitely caught us off guard."

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