BURBANK — Less than a minute into his team's game against Burbank High, Burroughs soccer player VJ Salazar was, as Indians coach Mike Kodama would say later, where he was supposed to be.
Salazar took the rebound off a missed shot and connected on a long-range goal into an open net. That goal gave Burroughs an early lead and set the tone for the match, as the Indians defeated the Bulldogs, 4-1, at Burbank High on Friday.
“That first goal I just saw the rebound and an open net, so I just took the finish and scored it,” Salazar said.
In the seventh minute, Burroughs' Ashot Veisyan scored the first of his two goals and, just like that, the Indians held a 2-0 lead.
“I told my guys you've got to hold on for at least the first 10 minutes, which we didn't do,” Burbank Coach Loi Phan said. “You're going to play a team that good and spot them a two-goal lead? They're a good team. There's no way you can give a team that good a 2-0 lead at the start of the game.”
Burbank's only goal of the evening came on an unconventional play. Burroughs defender Nick Lucero tried to tap the ball back to goalkeeper Alberto Meir, but instead rocketed the ball past his own netminder. The Bulldogs’ Chris Mazzi chased the ball down and tipped it in to pull within 2-1.
That's as close as Burbank would get. Veisyan added his second goal of the match late in the first half off of a Brandon Gerlach pass. Midway through the second half, Gerlach hooked a corner kick through the goal for the 4-1 lead.
The Indians played aggressively throughout.
“This is the way we play,” Kodama said. “Our guys are going to go forward and take their opportunities.”
With the win, the Indians improved to 10-2-4 overall and 6-0-1 (19 points) in Pacific League play to keep a firm grasp on first place, with a two-point lead on Pasadena (5-0-2 for 17 points). The Bulldogs fell to 2-9 and 1-6.
Friday's match marked the midway point in league play for both teams.
“In the second half of league, just play the same way we did today, just keep touching the ball and we should be fine for the rest of league,” Salazar said as the key moving forward.
Phan just wants to see his team continue to get better.
“We're improving each time,” Phan said. “That's my goal. Each game you play a little better and that's all you can hope for.”