Glendale girls' soccer preview

Flintridge Sacred Heart's Sarah Vail prepares for the season at girls' soccer practice on campus on November 26. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

Over the last four seasons, the local girls’ soccer landscape has seen its share of league titles and playoff runs when it comes to Crescenta Valley, Flintridge Prep and, most notably, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.

However, as the 2013-14 season has kicked off, those perennial powers are all dealing with major overhauls due to the loss of some talented mainstays.

Likely the biggest contender out of the three to remain atop its league is Crescenta Valley, as it boasts the most returns and, arguably, the most favorable league competition. Flintridge Prep and Flintridge Sacred Heart, after all, share leagues with defending CIF Southern California Division III Regional champion Pasadena Poly and Southern Section Division I titlist Chaminade, respectively.

“Super rebuilding year,” Flintridge Prep Coach Esteban Chavez said.

Said Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Cesar Hidalgo: “Being a young team this year, calling it a rebuilding year wouldn’t be too far off.”

With the graduation of standouts Sarah Teegarden and Kayla Mills, Flintridge Sacred Heart begins this season without any remaining starters from the historic 2010-11 team that won a CIF Southern Section Division I title. In addition, Hanna Armendariz, who was likely to be the team’s most impressive offensive threat, transferred before her junior season, and Laura Thompson, who scored eight goals last year, elected to concentrate on academics and skip her senior season.

Of the 48 goals scored by the Tologs last season, only four were scored by players that will return.

Senior midfielder Casey Basso, who had three goals and an assist, is likely to shoulder the biggest portion of the offensive load.

“She will be the go-to player, the one either assisting or scoring goals,” said Hidalgo, whose team opened with a 4-0 win over Monrovia on Tuesday. “There is a lot of things that we have to do to see where all of these pieces are going to fit.”

Joining Basso in forming the core of the team should be sophomore defender/midfielder Lauren Savo and senior defender Sarah Vail. Along with them, senior goalie Dani Garcia, an All-Area pick a year ago, will return, though likely later in the season after undergoing offseason surgery.

Coupled with the uncertainty of having 13 underclassmen on an 18-player roster, Hidalgo and his Tologs must also deal with the rigors of the Mission League, which boasts defending league champion Harvard-Westlake, as well as defending Division I champion Chaminade.

“I think it’s going to be just as tough,” said Hidalgo, whose Tologs took second in league a year ago and were upset in the first round of the Southern Section Division I playoffs. “We’re going to be taking on this league a game at a time. The goal this season is to get in the top three and get into CIF [playoffs]. It’s gonna be tough.”

In the Pacific League, returning two-time champion Arcadia looks to be the favorite.

That certainly won’t prevent Crescenta Valley and Falcons Coach Jorden Schulz from vying for the top spot, one they lost last season after four straight years of winning at least a share of the league title.

“I hope our girls are as upset as I am that we didn’t win league last year,” Schulz said.

No matter how inspired the Falcons are, though, that won’t nullify the loss of Sierra Rhoads, the team’s leading scorer, and Whitley Boller and Katie Callister, who were towering and physical presences in the midfield.

“We lost a lot of size — like all of it,” said Schulz, whose team took second in the Pacific League before advancing to the second round of the Southern Section Division III playoffs. “We’re gonna have to make up for it with our speed.”

Speed is plentiful when it comes to returners Sarah Worden, a senior defender who also played forward last season, and junior forward/defender Grace Keller.

Other top returners will be senior defender Olivia Bird, her sister, sophomore forward Rachel Bird, and senior forward Ani Hemelianas.