PREPS: Oaks Christian makes case for No. 1


So much attention was going to Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's girls soccer team, and with good reason.

The Tologs, from a tiny little Catholic school in La Caņada Flintridge, upset mighty San Clemente to win the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title, were No. 1 in ESPN Rise's Fab 50 national rankings and seemed a shoo-in for a second successive Division III regional crown.

Someone forgot to tell Oaks Christian.

UCLA-bound Ally Courtnall scored twice and set up a third goal in the first 18 minutes, and the Lions (26-2-1) romped to their first Southern California Regional Championship title Saturday morning, a 3-1 decision at Warren High School in Downey.

Courtnall, a Canadian under-17 national-teamer, destroyed Flintridge Sacred Heart's defense with speed as the Westlake Village school scored all three goals on counterattacks.

“I thought our girls played really hard today,” said Lions coach Sebastian Alvarado. “And I don't think they knew how fast Ally was at the end of the day, and I don't think they knew we have some girls who can knock the ball around.”

It capped a spectacular season for Oaks Christian, which won its final 20 matches and set a school record for victories while scoring 110 goals, won the Southern Section Division 4 title -- its sixth section crown in the sport since 2003 -- and that's not all.

“We beat the [Southern Division 1 champion today, and we beat the Division 2 champion, Buena [of Ventura, in December],” Alvarado said. “So it's pretty good to have that on your record.”

Flintridge Sacred Heart was missing two starting midfielders -- Oaks Christian was without four players -- but everything went downhill for the Tologs (23-2-1) when USC-bound forward Katie Johnson (23 goals) went down with a knee injury in the 10th minute. The Lions also benefited from Brittani Gardella's play in the back and fellow senior Jaciella Mello's performance in midfield.

Courtnall, the daughter of former NHL winger Russ Courtnall, is a converted defender -- she'll be an outside back at UCLA -- whom Alvarado moved up front after a Dec. 20 loss to Saugus. The Lions haven't lost since.

“What she has, you can't teach,” Alvarado said. “Her speed is world-class.”

Coutnall netted her 27th and 28th goals of the campaign, scoring from Mandi Duncan's feed in the third minute and finishing a counter in the 18th, and her run down the right flank led to Bianca Deardorff's 20th goal of the season in the 16th. Tera Trujillo netted a 30-yard free kick for Flintridge Sacred Heart in the 66th minute.

Oaks, which is No. 50 in ESPN Rise's rankings, was missing several players in both of its losses -- the other was a 6-1 Harvard-Westlake romp on Dec. 10 -- and might have finished an unbeaten season with a little more fortune. Alvarado, who took the reins from athletic director Jan Hethcock this season after serving as the Lions' boys coach, says he has no doubt this is the best team in school history (“Hands down -- just don't tell my A.D. that”) and figures a victory over the nation's No. 1 club should count for something special.

“I guess we're No. 1 in the nation now.”