It was an accomplishment that was a long time coming for the Burroughs High girls’ soccer team during the 2018-19 season.
The Indians enjoyed a successful campaign that included a Pacific League championship, the program’s first title in 26 years.
Two of the players from that squad graduated, but Burroughs coach Brady Riggs said he believes his team has enough returning talent to defend its league crown.
For Providence, which has a new coach, it is looking to rebound after a tough first season in the Prep League in which it didn’t qualify for the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
Burbank is also looking to reverse its fortunes from a season ago, when it also came up short of making it to the postseason.
Here is a closer look at the teams.
Behind co-Pacific League Players of the Year Lily Gonzalez and Lauryn Bailey, the Indians captured the program’s second league title and first since 1993 in the Foothill League.
“We are in a conversation now that is kind of fun for us,” Riggs said. “In years past, it was always Arcadia that was the king of the hill until they get knocked off, and now, after last season, I think we’re that team on the top of the hill, which feels really weird. But that part’s cool.
“We did lose two key players from last year’s team, and we had another player who has been missing because she plays on a high level with her club team. But other than that, everyone else is back, which is great. They are stronger and older ... The expectations for us are really high.”
Burroughs went 16-4-2 and 12-1-1 in the Pacific League to finish first over runner-up Crescenta Valley and third-place Arcadia. In the Division IV playoffs, the Indians opened with a 4-1 win against Artesia and fell in the second round to Hemet, 4-2.
The Indians will rely on the talents of it’s two returning league standouts in Bailey, a junior striker, and Gonzalez, a junior forward/midfielder.
Also providing talent for Burroughs is senior midfielder Olivia Cashman, junior midfielder Gabby Morales, senior centerback Orla Giffen, junior outside back Jesse Virtue and sophomore forward Megan Schmidt. The team’s goalkeepers will be senior Stephanie Martinez and sophomore Kaylin Casper.
“The league for us in the past, was can we beat Arcadia?,” Riggs said. “The league championship wasn’t always the goal, but it was more just to get into the race a little, because we were always finishing fourth, or third, or second a couple of times.
“We want to win the league again this year. We don’t expect to win league, but we expect to be in the mix. But also, before where the playoffs was just gravy for us and another fun experience, I think now the girls really want to see what they can do and that’s now on their radar.”
The Pioneers are coming off a season in which they struggled at times in their inaugural campaign in the Prep League. Providence went 5-12 and 0-10 in league to finish sixth out of six teams.
Taking over the head coaching duties for Providence is Carlos Nunez, who was an assistant last season.
“I’m really happy with this group and the girls have been working really hard,” Nunez said. “It is a very coachable group and they want to get better as a team.
“We will have a pretty small group with about 13 girls on the team right now. We do have four freshmen and a few sophomores, which is good. We did lose I think something like eight seniors to graduation from last year. So we are looking to see where everybody fits in.”
Key returning players for Providence this season should be junior centerback Kylee Obermeyer, junior midfielder Orla Dempsey and junior centerback Celia Renteria. A newcomer who could make an impact is freshman forward Leanne Salinas.
Nunez said the Pioneers are looking for improvement this season in league.
“Last year with us being in a new league, it was kind of a shock for us,” he said. “The teams are better than the teams we played in the league that we came from. It was really tough for us.
“So, this year we know the teams and we know what to expect from them and I’m hoping that we’re going to do better than we did last year.”
The Bulldogs are coming off a season in which they went 3-16-1 and 3-10-1 in the Pacific League for sixth place.
“We are hoping to make some noise in a good way this season,” Burbank coach Pablo Diaz said. “I think we have a great group and and they know that negative thoughts and actions kind of have a way of creeping into the team if you don’t get those out of they way early in the season.
“This year we have a huge group of juniors and a couple of sophomores. We don’t have any freshmen this year on varsity. We do have four seniors taking the lead for us.”
Some key players for the Bulldogs are expected to be senior forward Sydney Sugars, sophomore midfielder Madie Chase, junior wing/utility Liliana Partida and senior goalkeeper Lindsey Miller, who has been pressed into service after an injury to the team’s starting keeper.
Diaz said he expects the Pacific League to once again be challenging.
“There are some powerhouse teams in this league and we are going to have to be ready for them,” Diaz said. “I told the girls that in league, don’t underestimate anybody because just like you guys they are getting better.
“We know that Burroughs is going to be very strong and Arcadia and [Crescenta Valley] always have good teams. We just need to be prepared when we play all the teams in league.”