Girls Soccer: Flintridge Sacred Heart advances to first CIF-SS finals with 1-0 win over Esperanza in OT; Marshall falls to Animo Leadership, 2-1.


By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

PASADENA – The boisterous ovation Tuesday was in appreciation of a Marshall Fundamental girls soccer team that went from irrelevant to powerhouse in about three years.

The host Eagles were enjoying their deepest playoff run ever, for the first time in school history appearing in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 playoffs. It ended there, though, with a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Animo Leadership of Lynwood.

Marshall (14-6-1) fell victim to jitters, and it was evident almost immediately.

Animo Leadership’s (12-3-1) Vanessa Villacorta connected on a free kick in the second minute of play to give the Aztec Eagles the early lead.

“We knocked out the No. 1 seed, and in our last game, I thought, we played one of our toughest games,” Marshall co-head coach Jumal Karume said.

“We just started off slow here. It was the first time we’re here and we were a little nervous. Even though we were able to get it back, we were never able to get the energy to get back into it.”

Marshall sophomore forward Isabel Robles raced up the middle and sped past her defender for a one-on-one against Animo keeper Elizabeth De Dloz. Robles, a sophomore forward, went into the box and sent a soft, right-footed shot to the back of the net to tie the game 1-1 in the 56th minute. It was her 21st goal of the season.

The jubilation from a throng of Marshall fans, however, didn’t last long. Animo’s Genesis Tamayo sent a well-placed free kick from 43 yards out to the corner of the net to regain the lead for the Aztec Eagles.

Marshall’s frantic effort was evident, as the Eagles sent in numerous shots in the final 15 minutes, but to no avail.

“It was a great free kick,” said Karume, who shares coaching duties with Esteban Villanueva.

“It was a bad foul. We try to teach our girls that you can’t go from back because they’ll always call a foul.”

Karume conceded that the foul was warranted in that instance, but almost saw himself ejected for continually arguing with the head official for what Karume felt should have been a penalty call for the Eagles.

It was midway through the first half, when freshman Roxana Hernandez (11 goals) battled for possession before dribbling into the penalty area. She was brought down hard by Animo’s Melissa Ortega, but instead of receiving a penalty kick, the Eagles were awarded a corner kick that didn’t produce a shot on goal.

It was an emotional win for Animo Leadership, which played without junior midfielder Destiny Felix, who was tending to her terminally ill father.

“They wanted to win this one for her,” Animo Leadership co-head coach Jose Luis Palomares said.

Marshall junior keeper Marlene Sanchez made nine saves to keep the Eagles within striking distance. The Eagles’ defensive backline was stellar, including Brianna Izagurre, who jumped into an Animo shot attempt to block it, preventing it from becoming a threat.

With only three seniors departing – captains Maria Saravia and Viri Angle and Izagurre – Karume is already setting the bar high for next season.

“I hate to put this out there,” Karume said, “but let me be clear: We expect to move forward after this, and we expect to win our division next year.”


Conti’s overtime goal lifts Flintridge Sacred Heart
From Staff Reports

ANAHEIM – Timing is everything, and no team knows that better than the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy girls soccer team.

Senior captain Alyssa Conti didn’t play the final 20 minutes of the second half, but it was her two minutes of play in overtime that dwarfed everything else before that.

Conti’s goal in the fourth minute of golden-goal play lifted the visiting Tologs to a 1-0 victory over Esperanza in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs Tuesday afternoon.

Flintridge Sacred Heart (20-1-1), the No. 3 seed and 14th-ranked team in the nation, makes its first finals trip in school history and will play defending Division 1 and Southern California Regional Division 1 champion San Clemente, which advanced after beating Santa Margarita 4-2 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie. The Tologs were ousted in the semifinals last season, falling to Beckman on penalty kicks.

Tuesday’s goal was set up in the midfield by Sarah Teegarden, who played the ball to an unmanned Breanna Koemans. She sent the ball over a defender on the right side, and Conti one-touched it on a short hop into the back of the net to end what Flintridge Sacred Heart co-head coach Frank Pace described as “an evenly played match.

“Both teams had pretty good chances,” Pace said. “They hit the post and had a near score late in the half.”

Tologs senior captain Natalie Zeeni made a sliding save off the goal line to keep the game scoreless and force overtime. Goalkeeper and fellow junior Lindsey Espe made six saves to record the shutout.

“We probably outshot them,” Pace said, “but it was a fast, well-played game, up and down.

“It was a foot race for 80 minutes, and today it was a foot race for 84 minutes.”

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