Los Angeles Soccer: Mandi Duncan

PREPS: Oaks Christian makes case for No. 1

March, 12, 2011

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.

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