WEST HILLS — In less than a minute, cheers of celebration switched from the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy girls' soccer team’s to Chaminade’s sideline.
It appeared the Tologs had the first goal in the 45th minute of the teams’ Mission League finale off a Hannah Armendariz free kick. The goal was waved off and that proved to be the difference in a scoreless draw at Chaminade Wednesday.
“It’s part of the game, sometimes you’re going to win and sometimes you won’t,” Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Cesar Hidalgo said. “Sometimes referees have the handle of the game, they make the decisions and it could hurt the result of the game — that’s what this was today, unfortunately.”
While there were a host of other scoring chances for the Tologs, the no-goal call came back to haunt them. Needing a win to lock up a share of the league title with Harvard-Westlake, the tie locked the Tologs (15-2-3, 7-1-2 in league) into second place in league, just two points behind Harvard-Westlake (13-2-3, 8-1-1 in league).
“So, that was a bogus call,” Tologs senior Kayla Mills said of the goal being waved off. “I know that was a goal, but we still should’ve finished the opportunities we were given. It was just really frustrating and very upsetting because we know we should’ve won.”
Armendariz fired a free-kick shot from the top left of the Eagles’ six-yard box off the top crossbar. The ball bounced on the ground and up in the air before Chaminade goalie Chinaar Desai grabbed it.
Three Sacred Heart players screamed and ran to celebrate with Armendariz, as the sideline official ruled it a goal.
“I was happy because I clearly saw the ball go past the line, but as everyone was hugging me I saw the other ref running to the sideline ref, and I was just was wondering what was going on,” Armendariz said.
The head referee went straight to the side judge, discussed the matter for about 30 seconds and waved off the goal, saying the ball never crossed the goal line.
“I was shocked because it clearly went behind the line and some of my teammates said they saw it touch the net,” Armendariz said.
Still in need of a goal, Flintridge Sacred Heart, which is tied for the No. 9 ranking in CIF Southern Section Division I, launched into an all-out attack in the final minutes of the second half and moved Mills, who started at center back, up to forward with midfielder Sarah Teegarden also assuming a largely offensive role in the contest.
“We knew this game was meaningless whether we lose or tie,” Hidalgo said. “We were going for what we wanted and that was for a goal and the championship. We sent everybody that we could and we tried everything that we had in our pockets. Unfortunately, sometimes it just doesn’t happen and this was one of those games.”
With the Tologs pushing way up in the final minutes, Chaminade nearly got a goal of its own to put a win out of reach when a deep clearance led to a Brittney McKinney breakaway down the right side of the field. Flintridge Sacred Heart goalie Dani Garcia creeped out of her goal to force McKinney’s shot, which was aimed at the far post but just wide to keep matters level.
The Eagles (14-3-5, 4-2-4) mounted a number of other promising attacks, most coming off set pieces, with a pair of deep throw-ins yielding dangerous, yet off-target shots from Abbi Williams and Brittany Solis in the 67th and 68th minute, respectively.
Chaminade’s best crack at a goal also came off a free kick and shot off the post in the 38th minute. Solis took the kick from about 38 yards out and smacked it out of Garcia’s reach and off the top-left corner of the goal frame. The deflection came right to McKinney, whose hard shot went right to Garcia for the save.
The Tologs rattled another shot off the post in the 60th minute — this time on a free kick taken by Savannah Viola near midfield. The rebound went to Teegarden, whose shot just sailed over the goal.
Sacred Heart produced a corner, two-on-one counter attack and breakaway in the final eight minutes of the game but none even led to a shot.
While it was clearly a disappointing result for Sacred Heart, Mills said she believes the team is still carrying a wave of momentum into the Division I playoffs.
“We can definitely still win from here on,” Mills said. “We’re just going to take this as a learning curve and keep on going because we know we can play better than what we showed today. Whoever’s next, I think we’ll give them the best of us. If they win with the best of us then that’s fine, but here wasn’t the best of us. All we can do is try our best.”
Hidalgo was proud of his team’s effort Wednesday and throughout all of league. He said no one expected his team to contend for a league title this year, but it was in the hunt until the final whistle of the league season sounded.
“We said all along, ‘Take it one game at a time,’” Hidalgo said. “We wanted the championship, we came in second place. We’re going to take that, forget about league and start over fresh and go for the big championship, which is CIF.”