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Tolog triumph gets top spot

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team's first-ever CIF Division I soccer title was area's biggest story in 2011.

December 30, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • The Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team's CIF run was the top sports story of 2011.
The Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer team's… (Tim Berger, Burbank…)

Between the championship exploits of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer and Flintridge Prep boys' basketball, the ascent to state heights by a host of Glendale Community College teams and several local names popping up on the national level, 2011 had plenty of stories worthy of top-10 consideration.

The final voting recognized the Tologs' first-ever CIF Southern Section Division triumph as the tops among them all, but there were many worthy contenders that made the cut and plenty more that didn't. The following is a recap of the sports stories that stood out most and inspired the greatest public interest in the year past.

1 Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy wins CIF Division I soccer title: It was the one piece of the championship puzzle that the Tologs couldn't fit into their landmark 2009-10 campaign, in which they won a first-ever CIF Regional crown, making the CIF Southern Section Division I championship the primary goal when most of the same talented roster regrouped to make another run in 2010-11.

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The Tologs would win the ultra-competitive Mission League for a second time and come one win away from repeating as regional champs, but the defining stretch of what stands as the finest season in the program's history was contained in their two-week journey through the sectional playoffs, a story line which commanded front-page attention like none other this year.

The gauntlet began with a 5-1 win over Foothill on Feb. 17 and continued with wins over Aliso Niguel on penalty kicks and a 3-1 triumph over Tesoro. As things tightened up in the semifinals and finals, so did Sacred Heart's defense, which didn't allow a goal the rest of the way. Goals were just as hard for the Tologs to come by as well, making 1-0 game-winners by Alyssa Conti in overtime against Esperanza on March 1 and Krista Meaglia three days later in the finals against San Clemente all the more magical.

The last in a series of playoff road matches deep in Orange County, the title-clinching win over the Tritons contained a little of everything that defined the Tologs' championship run — confidence in the clutch, jaw-dropping defensive plays and sound coaching, both in preparation and making changes on the fly — and saw the undersized school leave a slew of slain giants in its wake to capture its first-ever CIF title.

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