BURBANK HIGH — In a Pacific League that could provide a great deal of parody this season in boys' soccer, a league championship or playoff implications could be decided by very few points.
Members of the Burbank High and Pasadena squads knew that possibility full well when a battle of Bulldogs took place Monday at Burbank.
“We know every game is going to be important in league,” said Pasadena goalkeeper Jimmy Castillo, who had 10 saves in recording the win. “The way I see it, it could come down to a single point for a league championship this year.
“Even teams that were lower in league last year or a little weaker are better this year. We have to fight in every game.”
Burbank (3-3, 1-1 in league) came into the match short-handed because of injuries and some players who are no longer with the team. But things got even worse for the Bulldogs, as a starter was injured Monday and two others were banged up. That doesn’t bode well for Burbank, which will also play league contests Wednesday and Friday.
“I had one guy left on the bench,” Burbank Coach Loi Phan said. “I told our guys the way the league is structured, where you have to play three times in one week, basically when you get to Friday it’s going to come down to which team has the better bench and who has the least players hurt.”
The game-winner came in the 77th minute. When Burbank failed to clear the ball out of its end, Pasadena (11-1, 2-0) worked the ball deep into the Burbank half. Oscar Vanegas got the ball on the left side of the Burbank goal, moved in and dribbled a shot past goalkeeper Andrew Hank.
Burbank tried to make a run with time running out and actually had a hard shot on goal just before the whistle blew, but Castillo came up with a fine save to end the threat.
The two teams had their share of chances in the first half, but neither was able to score. While most of the play took place in the Burbank end, the hosts did generate some opportunities.
“In the first half we were just hoping to end it 0-0 and then switch and we would try and get our opportunities,” Phan said. “That was our game play. It wasn’t that we were outplayed in the first half, we just wanted to try and frustrate them.”
Pasadena finally broke the tie in the second half in the 54th minute when Yezid Lopez lofted a shot from 35 yards out that fluttered toward the Burbank goal. Hank tried to back peddle, but the ball kept drifting, went over his head and into the net.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Burbank came back with the equalizer just four minutes later. Burbank’s Christian Garcia fed Georgi Dzneladze in front of the Pasadena goal. Dzneladze rifled a shot that hit the inside of the crossbar and banked back into the field of play. Although the ball continued to be played for a moment, the whistle blew signifying a goal for Burbank.
Burbank had some prime opportunities to take the lead in the next 10 minutes. The bast chance came when Garcia fed Dennis Palacio on the right side in the 73rd minute. Palacio slid to get to the ball, but couldn’t put a shot on net from two yards out.
Just a minute later, Garcia delivered a hard header that was stopped by Castillo.