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Boys' Soccer Preview: Burroughs, Providence look to defend league titles

It was a successful 2016-17 boys’ soccer season for the teams from Burroughs and Providence highs.

While the Indians captured the Pacific League championship for the first time in three seasons, the Pioneers won a share of the International League crown to claim just the program’s second title.

However, the Indians lost a large group of seniors to graduation and will field a young team.

The Pioneers return a core group from their championship squad and have added a group of promising freshmen.

At Burbank, it will be trying to rebound after a winless 2016-17 season.

Here is a look at how the teams are shaping up.

BURROUGHS

The Indians are coming off a season in which they went 19-5-4, 11-2-1 in league, finishing three points ahead of runner-up Crescenta Valley. They advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division III quarterfinals, losing to Salesian, 3-0.

Burroughs and coach Mike Kodama are looking to fill spots left by the graduation of 12 seniors, including eight who earned all-league accolades. The biggest losses were All-CIF first-team midfielder Jake Lasso-Spell (16 goals) and goalkeeper Jordan Morgan (school-record 219 saves, 0.96 goals-against average).

“It’s like we have a new team for the most part,” said Kodama, whose Indians teams have won 10 league titles. “Sometimes you have a top-heavy senior team and then you have to build things up again and that’s what we have this season.

“It is definitely going to be different this year. The guys have definitely been putting in the work and we’re happy with that … but we have quite a lot of spots to fill.”

Returners on board for Burroughs are senior Topli Petko, who will move from forward to the back line, senior midfielder Carlos Rosales, senior defender Jonathan Ortega, senior midfielder Xavier Iniguez, senior defender Olin Bernal-Villapondo, sophomore defender Carter Wells and sophomore forward David Gerlach. The goalkeeper will be senior Sebastian Kalemkerian.

“There will be a lof of kids up from [junior varsity] that we are going to have to rely on,” Kodama said. “Hopefully they will be ready by the time we start league. I expect the league to again be competitive. There definitely won’t be any easy games.”

PROVIDENCE

The Pioneers (6-6, 5-1 in league) captured the program's first league championship in four years. Providence fell in the first round of the Division VII playoffs to Verbum Dei, 5-0.

“We only lost three seniors from last year and we had two other players who chose other sports, which happens,” Providence coach Ronald Neef said. “But what is great is that I have gotten five freshmen, four whom are long-term club players, and all five are probably going to start.”

One of the key returners for the Pioneer is senior striker Elias Ferguson. Last season, Ferguson scored eight goals and was named the league player of the year.

Two other returning all-league players are senior forward/midfielder Paul Swaine and senior defender Montgomery Greene. Also back are senior center/midfielder Westan Tengan and junior defender Josh Bamba.

“It’s great to have the four seniors back, but with the new players added to the mix, we really have the best of both worlds this season,” Neef said.

This will be the final season in the International League for the Pioneers, who will move to the Prep League for the 2018-19 season.

“I expect us to be competitive in league this season,” Neef said. “But we know we are going to be moving up to the Prep League and we really need to step up our game this year so we’ll be ready.”

BURBANK

The Bulldogs are coming off a trying season in which they went 0-13-5, 0-11-3 in the Pacific League for eighth place.

“We are going to be pretty young again, just like we were last year,” Bulldogs coach Loi Phan said. “It’s probably going to be another learning experience.

“We had leads in some of those games last year and we lost some of those late. We should have won some of those games. We just need to learn how to finish games like that.”

Phan said he is still tinkering with his team’s lineup and will not have his starters set for another week or more.

“Right now everything is up in the air,” Phan said. “There’s absolutely nothing like, ‘Here’s your spot.’ It’s like one player might play defense today and tomorrow he might be on the bench. We are just going to start our scrimmages and hopefully feel our way through.”

Returners who could contribute include senior goalkeeper Christian Ramos, senior forward Andrew Senane and senior forward/midfielder Omar Ibnoujala.

jeffrey.tully@latimes.com

Twitter: @jefftsports

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